Australian sports fans welcome a new player this week, as streaming service Stan enters the fray with a dedicated live sport offering – heralding the start of a new fight for fans’ eyeballs and dollars.
Friday night’s Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs Super Rugby match is Nine-owned Stan Sport’s debut offering following its parent company’s $100 million exclusive rights deal with Rugby Australia.
Under the deal Stan Sport will broadcast ad-free international matches including Wallabies’ Tests, the Rugby Championship, and Super Rugby for subscribers, while Nine will broadcast Wallabies Tests played in Australia and New Zealand as well as a handful of Super Rugby games on free-to-air TV.
Billing itself as ‘the home of rugby’, Stan Sport will be competing with Foxtel’s Kayo, which holds broadcast rights for the AFL, NRL and Netball Australia.
YouTube has recently secured Supercars rights, and Amazon Prime has a deal with Swimming Australia.
“For the first time in rugby’s history, fans can experience the game from its grassroots all the way to the international level, allowing a whole new generation of Australians to connect with the sport,” Stan chief executive Mike Sneesby said before the launch.
Existing Stan subscribers will have to cough up an extra $10 per month for access to Stan Sport on top of their $10-per-month Stan subscription.
Live sport a Netflix-free streaming battleground
Live sport has become a battleground for streaming services in Australia in recent times as broadcast rights contracts have come up for grabs, University of Victoria senior lecturer in screen media Marc C-Scott told The New Daily.
Netflix’s long-standing decision to stay out of live sport has opened the door for providers such as Stan Sport, Kayo and more, Dr C-Scott said.
“It was an area that Netflix always said that they didn’t want to go down, which allowed an opening for Stan to actually step into this sports streaming aspect,” he said.
Stan has been steadily bolstering its local content, and Stan Sport is a good next step, Dr C-Scott said.
“I think Stan is smart in doing what they’re doing, both in terms of starting to produce a lot more Australian content, local content, but also moving into the sporting market as well,” he said.
“Obviously they’ve done that with the rugby, but I think what’s more interesting is they’re not the only one to go into this as well. Kayo has had major success recently, particularly because it’s essentially owned by Foxtel.”
The rise of live sports on streaming platforms has put traditional free-to-air TV under pressure, Dr C-Scott said.
“I think the most interesting thing about that is that there is no free-to-air broadcaster involved in those rights,” Dr C-Scott said of Kayo’s acquisition of AFL, NRL and netball rights.
“The old model was Foxtel would have [broadcast rights] and give a couple of games to free-to-air broadcasters so Australians could gain access to some sport.
“Now, with Kayo, what they’re going to do is allow a few of the games to actually be streamed for free.”
The new model could “open a pathway for other types of deals in the future”, Dr C-Scott said.