Telecom and TVNZ are edging toward a deal for a joint Internet presence for the America’s Cup defence next year — one which will include both event news and e-commerce.
Judging by the huge volumes of traffic handled by the official Web site of the last America’s Cup regatta, it will probably be the most popular site ever hosted in New Zealand.
While Telecom has the rights to host the official America’s Cup Web site, TVNZ has the broadcast rights — and, it seems, the right to onboard data from the racing yachts, which could be relayed over the Internet.
Both organisations are among the “family of five” leading sponsors of the New Zealand defence, and there is a strong will to avoid an unseemly scrap. Nonetheless, negotiations have been slow up till now.
TVNZ’s general manager for new media, Reg Russ, says the basic idea of the venture — which would see TVNZ delivering a range of content into an Xtra-hosted official site — is not in dispute. But the alliance is still “a state of mind at this stage — there are a lot of wrinkles yet”.
“From my point of view, I didn’t want New Zealand to sell itself short by not creating the best Web site of its type in the world,” says Russ. “And it seemed to me therefore that Telecom, which has the rights to the official Web site, and TVNZ, which has the rights to the content — pictures and coverage and the data that goes with it — should for the benefit of the country form an alliance.”
The two organisations are also seeking to jointly sell America’s Cup merchandise online. TVNZ’s America’s Cup licensing executive, Megan Pye, is in the US at present signing up merchandising licences.
Telecom Internet Services has registered several America’s Cup-related domain names and already has an Xtra Web development team working on the project, but is not yet ready to comment on its plans for the site, apart from confirming talks with TVNZ are in progress and expressing confidence that an agreement will be struck.