Rugby will remain part of TVNZ's Internet brand, says Marks

TVNZ may have lost broadcast rights to rugby, but its Internet chief John Marks says online coverage of rugby will continue as part of the broadcaster's developing online news strategy.

TVNZ may have lost broadcast rights to rugby, but its Internet chief John Marks says online coverage of rugby will continue.

TVNZ's wall-to-wall coverage of the Rugby World Cup represents the last rugby it will screen for the foreseeable future, after a bitter dispute with Sky TV, which has sold rights for delayed telecasts to TV3.

While Sky has thus far shown little appetite for using its Web presence as anything other than a marketing and customer service tool, TVNZ's Rugby World Cup site has already attracted an international profile. In keeping with the broadcaster's new "video portal", it makes copious use of material from broadcast TV.

TVNZ also supplies news, video and information for access via the official New Zealand Rugby Football Union site at

A similar situation may be shaping up over Auckland's Football Kingz, a new team assembled to play in the Australian national soccer league. Sky this week won live broadcast rights - but TVNZ has already registered two Kingz-related Internet domains.

Marks says that while his "personal view" is that "it would be lovely to have to on-air coverage on a Website, it's not the essential part of the rugby.

"Rugby is a culture and everything surrounding rugby is news. So it's possible for us to have a very satisfactory news site that covers fixtures and events, does live scoring and may potentially attract live commentary from Keith Quinn or others.

"You could think of it in terms of a magazine. If we do the portal job properly then it's still going to attract those who have the licences to come and talk to us about putting their content on anyway."

Marks won't reveal precise numbers for traffic through TVNZ's Web sites, but says requests to the TV One Website "are now being measured in millions per month".

He says the ASB's sponsorship of the video portal - and trial of online video commercials - demonstrates that "the ASB's understanding of where the Internet is going parallels our own. The bank is a logical partner for us as we develop practical Internet interactivity.

"The ASB Fastnet operation will be to banking what the One video portal will be to post-millennium information transfer and I think both companies have a common and exciting vision of the digital future.

We'll see far more of this enhanced news gathering as we move into the election campaign and on through the millennium. On the way we'll resolve issues like bandwidth, firewall tunnelling and frame rate and I'm predicting that by the middle of the year 2000 interactive video on the Net will be as natural as text news stories are at present."

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