As SA broadcasters fight over rugby TV rights, others in Africa will watch online, for free
As a television rights dispute erupted between South Africa's public and pay broadcasters over the weekend for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup competition, some across Africa will watch the games online, thanks to the game's first-ever global streaming platform.
In preparation for the tenth edition of the men's competition, the World Rugby board launched a streaming platform, RugbyPass TV, two weeks ago to connect rugby fans all over the world, for free.
According to officials, the platform will ensure this is the most widely accessible rugby event ever. However, in South Africa, live games are unlikely to be shown on the platform, with World Rugby stating it would only operate in territories where it has no broadcast deals or where rights-holders do not show all matches live.
From September 8 to October 28, France will host the Rugby World Cup, with 20 nations vying for the Webb Ellis trophy.
In South Africa, pay-TV broadcaster MultiChoice currently owns the exclusive rights to broadcast all the tournament's live matches. However, it came to light yesterday that the public broadcaster, SABC, is in a dispute with MultiChoice over a $2 million fee to air the games, a stance that could disadvantage people who do not subscribe to pay-TV.
At the launch of RugbyPass TV, World Rugby chief marketing and content officer James Rothwell said: “This is an opportunity for rugby fans around the world to get closer to the game we love. Rugby is an incredible sport, and we want to deepen the connection it has with new and existing fans through live rights, never-seen-before archive content, and our World Rugby Studios original programming.”