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Pub hitch in Stan Sport’s rugby coverage

Future Super Rugby matches could potentially be viewed via smart televisions in pubs and clubs, if Stan Sport is unable to resolve its deal with Sky Channel. 

The feud between Stan Sport and Sky Channel, which fell apart last week, saw Rugby fans unable to watch the Force versus Brumbies match in pubs across Australia. 

Stan Sport will still show the popular Super Rugby Aotearoa fixtures from New Zealand, and later in the year, club rugby from Sydney and Brisbane. 

However, on Friday, The Herald revealed the Sky deal was abandoned following the revelation that Sky Channel had reached agreement without the consent of parent company, Tabcorp.

While Rugby Australia is hopeful a deal will be secured in the near future, sources Tabcorp sources have revealed to The Herald that it is unlikely a resolution will be reached. 

Initially, Tabcorp officials were concerned that Peter V’landys, Racing NSW chief executive and chairman of the ARL Commission, wasn’t consulted before the deal was done and that there was little upside to having rugby competing with racing for screens in pubs.

Optus and Foxtel, which compete with Sky Channel for pub space and supply satellite feeds to pubs, are not deemed viable partners for Stan as Optus has limited venue coverage and Telstra lost the rugby rights to Nine but will be showing NRL and AFL. 

Stan has thus rethought its strategy with streaming directly to smart devices such as TVs was a feasible option. This would mean any pub which wants to show the rugby could do so through the Stan app on their smart TV.

However,  the broadcast of the second round of Super Rugby AU in pubs was highly unlikely at this time.

The strategy may take time to roll out. 

Rugby fans have been undeterred by the fight for coverage in pubs, The Herald reported about 200,000 people across 9Gem and Stan Sport watched the Reds’ record-breaking win against the Waratahs. That’s triple the viewership for the dame round last year.

“Friday night’s launch of Rugby on both Stan Sport and 9Gem was hugely successful, exceeding all expectations,” Nine director of sport Brent Williams said.

“We look forward to growing on this strong base as we continue to work closely with Rugby Australia, the teams and players to build our coverage throughout the season.”




Irit Jackson, 23rd February 2021