Independence Day. That is what Coliseum Sports Media are calling it. Putting aside the comical hyperbole, this is big change in the way sport is delivered to the New Zealand public.
After years of sitting on the jewel in the crown of sporting coverage; the Premier League, SKY TV decided to submit a bid that saw them coming in third when the rights came around this year. They were beaten into second place by a nascent Free to Air channel.
As much as anything, this marks the end of the arrogance of a company that has enjoyed monopoly conditions unknown of in this country since Telecom in the regulation years.
Make no mistake, this is a big story as far as the New Zealand Sports media scene goes. The biggest event since SKY showed the first All Blacks test exclusively back in 1992.
So what do we know about the new kids on the block that will be televising the world’s most watched competition in New Zealand later this year?
- Coliseum Sports Media is not a start-up company, although they are newcomers to the New Zealand broadcasting scene.
- There will be a New Zealand component to this. Not in terms of covering local games, but more likely to be revival of a magazine football show previously axed by SKY.
- Access. Thi will be initially available on Mac, PC, iphone, ipad, Android phone and tablets; or through your TV by Apple AirPlay (via your Apple TV); or by connecting to your laptop to your TV using an HDMI cable. Welcome to the world of Ultra Fast Broadband.
- Pricing. Season Pass Platinum $239.90; Season Pass $149.90 and Day Pass $24.90
- The French League and Serie A will also be offered over time. Maybe even La Liga; TBC
- You will have the ability to choose which game you want to view, including four games at once; not just the default Manchester United option.
- There will be one game a week, as well as a Highlights package shown on TV1.
- The coverage will come with a proper integrated website; not just a patronising here is our schedule one.
- Giveaways? Like a free trip to watch your side play in the opening match of the season, if that counts.
Check out the PremierLeaguePass.com website. And check on it again between now and August 1.
There have been eyebrows raised over the cost of the Day Pass, and it does seem steep to a market that is new to the concept. However, at least that option exists; if you wanted to watch one match only under the previous arrangement it would cost you around $80.
The Free-to-air partnership is an interesting one. TVNZ at lunchtime on a Sunday. So this is a mix of the modern post-UFB world with a dose of 1980s retro thrown in for good measure. There have been complaints that this is tokenism, and is likely to be included to meet contract requirements, but how much Premier League coverage has there been on New Zealand TV previously?
The other impact here is the effect on SKY, and their business model. Their shares dropped by 6% today as it dawned on people that there other ways of accessing the big sporting events. The timing is not great other; coming at a time when the Confederations Cup is being shown live in Fiji, but not New Zealand.
Breaking down this monopoly is good not only for the viewer, but also New Zealand sporting organisations who may have other options when sitting around the negotiation table.
Welcome to the new world.