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Spark delivers Rugby World Cup 2019 for New Zealand

At the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Spark is celebrating a number of milestones both for sports viewing and for live streaming in New Zealand.

Spark Sport sets records for live streaming and network traffic

• The All Blacks vs Ireland Quarter Final was the most-watched streamed sports event in New Zealand. Spark Sport played 212,000 live and on-demand streams on Spark Sport – and many of these streams would have had more than one person watching them. In addition, many New Zealanders watched with a one-hour delay on TVNZ free-to-air or via Sky Sport’s RWC pop-up channel in commercial premises.

• This was followed by the England vs Australia Quarter Final, with 191,000 live and on-demand streams on Spark Sport.

• The Wales vs France Quarter Final on 20 October helped to set new Spark and Chorus data traffic records for each of their networks. Although it had fewer streams than the matches on 19 October, the match coincided with a busy Sunday evening online, peaking at 1.2Tbps on the Spark network (a 40% increase on pre-RWC Sunday night traffic) and 2.6Tbps on the Chorus network.

New Zealanders benefited from option to buy access to the Rugby World Cup as a standalone purchase, with hundreds of thousands of Tournament Passes and Match Passes snapped up

• By the end of the tournament, New Zealanders had taken up just over 200,000 RWC subscriptions. This includes 192,000 active Tournament Passes (after cancellations have been taken into account) plus a number of fans that purchased one or more Match Passes.

New Zealanders enjoyed the range of live and on demand content available via Spark Sport

• Over the course of the tournament, nearly six million hours of Rugby World Cup content were streamed on Spark Sport.

• While the vast majority of this was live streaming, Spark Sport subscribers enjoyed over a million hours of on-demand content. This included replays of the matches for customers who didn’t want to watch late at night, plus the huge range of extra programming available on demand from Spark Sport.

• The most popular highlight programmes were the All Blacks post-match press conference on 21 September, the Anika Moa interviews and The 1014 Rugby: MVP – England and South Africa.

New Zealanders embraced the flexibility of watching on their preferred device and while on the go

• This was the first Rugby World Cup where fans could watch on a mobile giving them the flexibility to watch when out and about – and 40% of our customers used this option at some point.

• Spark Sport app was available across eleven different device types – and Kiwis utilised the full range of options. On average, customers watched the rugby on at least two devices.

Most customers had a positive experience – and Spark Sport took extra steps to help those who needed support

• Four out of five Rugby World Cup customers did not contact Spark Sport’s help channels at all during the tournament.

• Of the customers queries received, two thirds were in the first ten days of the tournament. The majority of these were simple set up and account queries rather than complex issues – and most were resolved in one interaction. Through the rest of the tournament, the number of queries received continued to drop.

• Less than 1% of customers had complex queries that were tricky to resolve and required more than four interactions. To help resolve the issues that this group was experiencing, Spark supplied over 500 replacement devices free of charge. We also completed over 150 home visits, nearly all of which solved customers’ issues. Following the tournament, our commitment to streaming education and support is ongoing.

Jeff Latch, Head of Spark Sport, shares some reflections on the tournament and Spark Sport’s delivery.

“I am so incredibly proud of the team who have come together to put on Spark Sport’s first Rugby World Cup for New Zealand. From our amazing team of presenters and commentators, who brought a fresh take on rugby commentary to the nation, to the technical team who delivered a reliable streaming service for all but one of the matches played, to the care team who worked all hours of the day and night to support our customers, to our fantastic partners at TVNZ who collaborated with us on production and provided free-to-air coverage, it was a huge collective team effort to bring this show together.

“We know that some were nervous about our ability to deliver, particularly after the All Blacks vs South Africa match, but throughout the remainder of the tournament, we believe that we have demonstrated that streaming is the future – and that Spark Sport has cemented its spot as a destination for New Zealand sports viewing.

“We are thrilled that the majority had a positive experience on our streaming platform. And while we acknowledge that not every New Zealander had the perfect experience on Spark Sport, we believe that the efforts that we made to get each customer’s individual in-home issue resolved went above and beyond what you would normally expect from a streaming provider – and demonstrated our commitment to doing right by New Zealanders and giving them a good experience of the tournament.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have now experienced the choice and flexibility that comes with live sports streaming – and are well set up to stream again in future.

“We’re now looking forward to delivering an exciting array of sport, including the close out of the F1 season, the Heineken Champion’s Cup Rugby, 6-7 live NBA games a week, 75 Premier League matches during December and the Australia Golf Open – and down the track, starting to plan for our delivery of New Zealand Cricket’s 2020/21 summer season.”


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