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Kiwis feeling nervous about streaming Rugby World Cup

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 Sep 2019, 11:36am
31 per cent of those surveyed said they were planning to ditch Spark Sport immediately after the Rugby World Cup ends. Photo / File

Kiwis feeling nervous about streaming Rugby World Cup

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 Sep 2019, 11:36am

With just two weeks until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, the countdown is on until New Zealand rugby fans get their first taste of a new viewing experience – streaming.

But according to research conducted by Opinion Compare, more than half of us are unhappy at the prospect of having to stream the six-week tournament, which will be broadcast on Spark Sport.

Spark said it appreciated that new users may find streaming "daunting" at first, but the technology would open up a "world of options" to them.

The survey, which was completed by 1250 New Zealanders, indicated 57 per cent of people had a negative response to streaming the Rugby World Cup.

Of the negative respondents, 31 per cent said they were annoyed, 16 per cent were angry and 8 per cent devastated.

Just 14 per cent of respondents answered positively – 8 per cent said they were happy and a further 8 per cent said they were optimistic.

Those under 35 years of age were the most likely to respond positively (26 per cent) while those in the 65+ age group were most likely to be negative towards the idea of streaming the World Cup.

Those surveyed didn't show a lot of confidence in Spark Sport's ability to deliver a seamless World Cup experience for viewers.

Just 11 per cent of all respondents said they were extremely confident (rated 8 or 9 on Opinion Compare's 9-point scale) that Spark Sport's streaming would go well during the tournament.

Spark Sport customers were also on the fence about the possibility of getting a seamless viewing experience with 47 per cent giving a rating between 5 and 7 and a further 37 per cent giving a rating between 1-4 (not confident).

Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson last month told the Herald that Spark Sport is now technically up to snuff, with 99.99 per cent uptime (though Spark Sport acknowledged problems with the streams for two English Premier League games last weekend in what has been a frustrating first four weeks of the season for some fans).

And Jeff Latch, head of Spark Sport, told the Herald that since launching in March, Spark Sport has devoted the rest of this year to "hardening its systems" in preparation for the Rugby World Cup.

However, in the event Spark's streaming falls over during the Rugby World Cup, the telco has said it will transfer coverage to TVNZ "within a few minutes".

For those that already have a Spark Sport subscription or that are planning to get one before the World Cup, 60 per cent will wait to see how Spark performs to decide whether to keep their subscription or not.

Potentially worrying for Spark is that 31 per cent of those that have a Spark Sport subscription or that are planning to get one before the World Cup are going to leave immediately after the games finish.

This morning, a Spark spokeswoman said: "While we appreciate that this is the first time that a major sporting event has been streamed to New Zealand and understand that change can create some uncertainty, we believe it will be a catalyst for positive change in the way Kiwis consume sports content.

"Though some may find the change daunting at first, we're confident people who may not have been eager to live stream before will have a world of options opened up to them once they start streaming.

"Live-streamed content will be a big part of the way Kiwis consume sports in the future and we're confident Spark Sport will play a role in delivering that."

Earlier, Latch said Spark's planning was based around half of Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass buyers coming on board during the final fortnight before kick-off on September 20.

Latch also said not all who had purchased a Tournament Pass so far had given the service a go using the library content available on-demand. He encouraged people to give the service a try-out with the Japan vs South Africa World Cup warm-up match that Spark Sport will stream this evening.

Opinion Compare is part of the NZ Compare group that also includes ISP comparison site Broadband Compare.

NZ Compare founder Gavin Male told the Herald that Opinion Compare's Rugby World Cup survey drew on the responses of 1250 people in its online panel (which totals around 6000 members) and was weighted to represent the age, gender and the regional profile of New Zealand.

Male said that although the Auckland-based Opinion Compare is only six months old, it was formed in partnership with Australian research agency The Interpreters - and that the methodology for the survey was overseen by The Interpreters manager Paul Dixon, a 25-year research industry veteran.

Male and Dixon previously worked together at UK research company ICD in the 2000s.

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