9 Apr 2009

Sky wins Rugby World Cup broadcasting rights

3:14 pm on 9 April 2009

Sky Television has won the host broadcasting rights for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.

Under the deal, Sky will work with Rugby World Cup Ltd to produce comprehensive coverage of all 48 matches for distribution worldwide. Coverage will be provided in high definition format.

The Rugby World Cup is the world's third largest sporting event and in 2007 was beamed to four billion people across 200 countries.

In addition to the deal with Sky TV, Rugby World Cup Ltd will seek to license simultaneous free-to-air broadcast in New Zealand of up to 16 matches, including the opening game and knock-out matches.

Sky chief executive John Fellet is confident the company will deliver excellent coverage despite having not broadcast the event before.

Mr Fellet says the IRB was never interested in a partnership between Sky and free-to-air broadcasters TVNZ and TV3.

At this stage, the Sky-owned free-to-air channel Prime has no involvement in the deal, he says, and it is too early to know whether the organisation would bid for some of the 16 free-to-air matches still to be allocated.

TVNZ says it has nothing to say while free-to-air discussions are still underway, while TV3 has not yet been reached for comment.