free-to-air sports

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, April 9th, 2018 - 45 comments
Categories: sport, tv - Tags:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve really enjoyed the coverage of the Commonwealth Games this week.  With TVNZ providing coverage over 3 channels, there’s an ability to watch a range of sports and to keep an eye on various things by switching between channels.  I had a quiet day today, so loved watching the women’s 20km walk in the morning, and the 100m heats in the evening.  Over the week, I’ve also managed to catch some of the cycling, swimming and gymnastics.

I’ve never subscribed to Sky for various reasons, which means that the amount of sports coverage available has not been great.  I watch when I can – in the last year, I’ve been able to see the Winter Olympics and Wimbledon.  I also try to catch as many world cup football matches when that’s on.  Not much of a rugby fan, and will sometimes catch netball on Prime, and have even been known to sit through an America’s Cup race or two.

It really bothers me that so many of our elite sportspeople have so often been unavailable to view free-to-air.  My view is that if a sportsperson or team is representing New Zealand and/or is getting public funding through our taxes, then we should be able to watch them when they compete.  Free-to-air.  I hate that there is a whole section of our population that has been shut out of watching a lot of sports because they couldn’t afford pay-TV.  Watching  encourages participation, as well as providing inspiration and motivation.

I’m all for sports being accessible, both to play and to watch, which means less profit-making and a more even spread of funding.  I can’t imagine this happening in a hurry, but one can wish.  That Sky may not get the rights to the next Rugby World Cup is at least a good sign and hopefully a sign of better things to come.

The other thing with Commonwealth Games (and Olympic) coverage is that we get to see a lot more women competing with these events.  We know how unequal and unfair coverage of women sports is generally, but this is a time when we get to see a range of female athletes doing really well.  If only we could get that all year round!

(Photo from here)

45 comments on “free-to-air sports”

  1. Kay 1

    Agree Stargazer. I’m not big on sports generally, but pre-Sky hogging them I used to enjoy watching the Olympics and C’Games. The token gestures they were feeding us on Prime (some concession they had to make as part of the rights deal wasn’t it?) just weren’t the same.

    Personally I enjoy watching individual events, athletics, gymnastics, swimming, ie the sports we never get to see. I’ve been surprised to find myself so engrossed in weightlifting in recent days!!

    An unpopular position I know, but I detest rugby with all my being and am proud to say I’ve never watched a game in my life. And recieved some pretty nasty abuse for it along the way! So I couldn’t care less what happens to that, but appreciate that a lot of people have missed out on major sporting events for many years now so don’t begrudge them. The big downside to Rugby returning to free-to-air (IMO) is that god awful patriotic fervour that Sky already spouts “4.5 million supporters blah blah blah, all of NZ backing you etc” is going to be rammped up by a zillion.

  2. Carolyn_Nth 2

    I haven’t actually got into watching the Commonwealth Games this time, but have in the past when it was free to air. Just haven’t had the time this week. And I now have got out of the habit of watching sports, due to it’s commercialistion.

    However, I do appreciate that CG Gold Coast 2018 is available on FTA.

    Also, it touches on something I’ve been pondering on: many are proclaiming TV is dead, and it’s all about being online these days. And certainly sports viewing providers are looking towards pay per view.

    The internet is all about continually paying for access continually. Whereas, for broadcast TV and radio, once you had the hardware, and an electricity connection it was truly free to air.

    But the emphasis now on ondemand viewing, cuts out those people who can’t afford an internet connection at home.

    I would like to see the current government secure the future of broadcast TV and radio as a free to air option for many programmes and events. And, in connection with that, I’d like to see a return to low cost, publicly owned power connections – albeit with usage caps if it is needed.

  3. james 3

    The problem is that with a lot of sports the television rights are ‘owned’ by the host (who is generally overseas based as most major world events are) – they have no obligation to give them out cheaply or free to any and all national TV providers of other countries.

    further there is no way we could force them to.

    • tracey 3.1

      The UK and Australia have, or had, legislation requiring free to air of certain sports events

      • james 3.1.1

        Not sure how that would work – for example AB’s playing England in the UK when the UK rugby union holds all the rights – how could NZ law ensure that they gave them to a free-to-air channel?

  4. weka 4

    “It really bothers me that so many of our elite sportspeople have so often been unavailable to view free-to-air. My view is that if a sportsperson or team is representing New Zealand and/or is getting public funding through our taxes, then we should be able to watch them when they compete. Free-to-air.”

    I agree. I’m not a huge sports fan but I did grow up in a household where we watched rugby, cricket, and the Olympic and Commonwealth games and didn’t have to pay to do that. Way more accessible. I haven’t had a physical television for years, but last time I tried to watch some Olympic events on line it was just too much effort to try and figure out where and how to get past the various limits because the coverage was commercially controlled.

  5. Tony Veitch (not etc) 5

    ” My view is that if a sportsperson or team is representing New Zealand and/or is getting public funding through our taxes, then we should be able to watch them when they compete. Free-to-air.”

    This should be the bottom line for sports’ viewing in this country!

    • Gosman 5.1

      Then sports like Rugby Union would stop Clubs and the like associated with the game from applying for Lotto money. Rugby Union could not operate as a professional game without broadcast revenue from pay TV.

      • Stop, please, Gossy, you’re breaking my heart!

        • Gosman 5.1.1.1

          Do you not want the All Blacks to be competitive?

          • tc 5.1.1.1.1

            Bit of a pooch whistle there Gossie, the evidence suggests they’re not that firmly aligned.

            In an era of professional rugby it still took us over 2 decades to win our next world cup despite all the dosh they garnered from sponsors, taxpayers etc.

            But hey keep that hand out along with those wealthy sailors.

            • Gosman 5.1.1.1.1.1

              That just serves to illustrate the issue even more. If we failed to win a World cup with large amounts of funding how hard would it have been to do so without it?

    • Ed 5.2

      Spot on.

  6. JohnSelway 6

    I’d love to have all sports free to air. It’s a bitch having to stream the cricket or F1 racing (my two favourite sports)

  7. Hooch 7

    I’d say there are compelling reasons for free to air sport. One, free to air has an audience which is the entire population as opposed to however many subscribers another provider has. Which would mean greater advertising exposure and potential for more revenue?

    Two, when I grew up we had free to air everything, we’d watch motorcycle racing then spend all day riding our bikes pretending we were the racers, watch cricket then spend all day at the park pretending we were our heroes etc. this would have to encourage kids to participate in more excercise, surely better than sitting in front of an Xbox

    • tracey 7.1

      We spend millions on sport on the basis of its health promotion and then shoehorn coverage to the privileged… thereby losing that role modelling component of encouraging healthy lifestyles

  8. tracey 8

    I wonder how many kiwis who do not like SKY anymore and agreed with Nats treatment of dotcom, have streaming boxes or other methods of watching their favourite sports. I am betting quite a few judging by those I know of.

  9. Gosman 9

    If you want to destroy the competitive side of Rugby Union at the top level in this country then the best way to do so would be to enforce a Free-to-air policy for live games.

  10. esoteric pineapples 10

    The day you could only watch rugby tests on pay tv was the day the “music died”

    • Ed 10.1

      Most sport has been destroyed by money.
      The link between supporter and player has disappeared as the latter become jet setting millionaires living in mansions.

      • Gosman 10.1.1

        This view about most sport being destroyed by money is based on what exactly? I suspect it is merely your opinion.

        • esoteric pineapples 10.1.1.1

          I think an obvious way money has had a very negative effect on sport in New Zealand was the erosion of employees’ work conditions under Rogernomics Neo-liberalism of the past few decades. A lot of people aren’t able to play sport on weekends any more because of their working hours, zero contracts etc, and simply having to work at more than one job to make ends meet. Or else, they can’t support family members who do for much the same reason. This has been one of the major reasons for the decline of club rugby in New Zealand.

  11. CHCOff 11

    Absolutely, but in a holistic sense to New Zealand community and way of life.

  12. riffer 12

    Commonwealth Games on FTA have been a godsend for me as I am stuck at home recuperating after surgery. I too have been glued to the telly (and surfing on the laptop). I hope its a great precedent.

    I would love to hear that the FTA coverage inspired a generation of youngsters.

  13. Monty 13

    The issue is the cost of the behind the scenes operations for broadcasting live games. For Free to Air to do this it would require massive investment to build up a capability to broadcast as many events as they do now ensuring the quality of the productions is world class so that it can be sold to other broadcasters as well.

    Its not as simple as you may think and would be expensive.

    There is also the purchase of the broadcast rights for the different events, super rugby, international rugby, cricket. How do you decide what should be free and what shouldn’t.

    With Sky and take Rugby for example we now have school boy rugby being broadcast, its giving more and exposure to the game.

    Sky through the TV rights gives money to sport bodies and potentially that money would be used to develop grass root programs and encourage new youngsters to start playing.

    I like the idea that games on say TVNZ are delayed coverage. When the live games end then TVNZ can then play the game on free to air TV. People then have choice to purchase SKY or wait for the free to air after the game has finished.

    • CHCOff 13.1

      Nope, properly engaged community involvement will in-directly pay for itself multiple times over, that’s part of the natural role to be had inherent to it, independent yet inclusive community self government.

      • Monty 13.1.1

        Sorry, perhaps I need to read this a couple more times to understand what part of my comment you are referring to.

        Perhaps you could help out and eleborate to which of my points your comment is referring to.

        • CHCOff 13.1.1.1

          I’m referring to your whole comment from the direction of injecting a rebate and subsidy system into sports clubs and t.v. coverage, as a social and economic national good ( or ‘high value commodity’ if one wants to be a bit more prosaic).

          • Monty 13.1.1.1.1

            Can you please highlight which part of my comment you are referring to as I dont believe i mentioned anything of following.

            “injecting a rebate and subsidy system into sports clubs and t.v. coverage, as a social and economic national good”

            If you are referring to this

            “Sky through the TV rights gives money to sport bodies and potentially that money would be used to develop grass root programs and encourage new youngsters to start playing.”

            Then ok but I have not mentioned it being a “social and economic national good”.

  14. esoteric pineapples 14

    Beef & Lamb NZ will be keeping an eye out for new talent for its advertising

  15. adam 15

    Bugger the Abo’s, ah mate.

    Stuff then indigenous people and their continued economic and cultural suppression.

    As long as you get your free to air sport, everything is fair dinkum, ah mate.

    Bloody terrorists anyone who does not embrace the Empire Games, ooops I mean commonwealth games.

    Next you put a link to a known communist, peace loving hippie type.

    http://johnpilger.com/articles/aboriginal-people-have-a-right-to-protest-the-commonwealth-games-as-stolen-wealth

  16. pdm 16

    Please put them back on Sky.

    The TV1 coverage is awful and using the cycling as an example the commentators are second rate and I haven;t even mentioned the ad breaks at inappropriate times.

    I shudder to think how poor the Rugby World Cup coverage is going to be if TV1 get it as is being indicated.

    • Jilly Bee 16.1

      Couldn’t agree more pdm – the coverage is indeed awful and I get just so frustrated with the constant advert breaks and the need to change the channel to continue viewing the same sporting discipline. Yes, my partner and I do subscribe to SKY and have done so probably ever since it started – our younger son set it up when he was still living at home whilst at university and decided to leave it with us when he left home. Their sports channels are mainly first class and big events and tournaments are usually spread over several channels and have replays to view. I might add that we’re followers of most sports and thoroughly enjoy watching rugby, cricket, tennis and football. A bit of an indulgence I suppose, but we enjoy it in our retirement as there are heaps of interesting channels to watch which means we don’t have to put up with the nonsense our FTA channels serve up day after day. Of course, if FTA TV was to be available to us advert free we would have to revert to an annual licence fee, as happens in the UK and I bet that proposition would go down like a cup of cold sick. I was not impressed with their latest subscription update but it has meant that we can now access the SOHO channel which has John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show!

    • stargazer 16.2

      i certainly haven’t found the coverage awful. the commentators have been giving me the information i need. and yes, i expect that the price for getting to view events free-to-air will be more advertising. again hasn’t bothered me, especially because i know that a much larger group of people have access to the coverage.

      just as an example, i’m also loving the coverage of the events featuring people with disabilities. now i know that many of those who have been struggling on a disability benefit would not be able to afford paid coverage and it’s great that they can see the whole range of events on a number of channels.

      if you want to pay for ads-free higher-level-commentary, then sure, you should have that option. but so should those of us who are happy with the level that we’re getting with TVNZ get the option to view it that way.

  17. timeforacupoftea 17

    This TV1 coverage is crap.
    terrible commentators
    Terribly organised program.
    Bloody add after add after add after add.

    Imagine what the World cup Rugby is going to be like. GOD !!!

    Leave it to SKY the professionals please.

    • Ross 17.1

      So true…I can imagine that during the RWC a collapsed scrum will be an opportunity to show an advert! 🙂

  18. instauration 18

    Stargazer
    Do you have control or influence over the outcomes of the NZ resident participants in the current Gold Coast “unnecessary fest of assumed adversaries” ?

    Say yes – then rejoice – your efforts, sacrifices and endeavours bestow you glory – success or fail.
    Else – the best you can hope for is to bask in the glory of the achievements of – others!

    To summarise: – WTF does a Commonwealth medal, or All Black – Black Cap (or Warriors) … Victory (or Loss) have to do with the majority of FTA (or paying) New Zealanders ?

    It has nothing to do with me – You ?

  19. instauration 19

    Do you have “Skin in the game” ?
    Most “sport viewers” don’t.

    (Taleb reference is appurtenant)

  20. instauration 20

    Ok – keep it simple..
    How did you feel when Team NZ won the last Americas Cup .. ?

    1/ I had influence and control on the outcome ?
    2/ indifferent – WTF does this have to do with me ?
    3/ good – elated – engaged ?
    4/ are you Schizotypal ?
    5/ are you Delusional ?

    If you answered yes to 1/ and 3/ then ok – but think about 4/
    If you answered yes to 2/ then cool
    If you answered yes to 3/ but no to 1/ and 2/ then;
    have a really good think about your answers to 4/ and 5/

  21. Ross 21

    The coverage of the Commonwealth Games has been lousy. An endless stream of adverts being punctuated by the odd smattering of sport! And last night we had Toni Street proclaiming Tom Walsh as Olympic Champion. That would come as a surprise to many. Sport needs it own channels…without ads.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/commonwealth-games/102961851/commonwealth-games-coverage-falls-short-with-squash-bowls-fans

    • timeforacupoftea 21.1

      Ha ha Yes Toni Street is a laugh a minute.

      At one stage I noticed 3 red clothed men being videoed (my sound was off thought it was a ad) seemed to go on for 10 minutes,
      then I looked up and saw it was three Brits whoops English standing on podium receiving medals.
      Whats that got to do with us.

      Where the hell do you find Bonds Time Trial on this crazy menu,
      looks like it to me we aren’t going to see any of it.
      Well bugger me.
      Come on SKY buy out TV1, It will be cheap at the moment.

      By the way the dopey bastards at New Zealand Olympic Committee Auckland run a website on The Commonwealth Games,
      which may have upset Toni Streets thinking a tad

      http://www.olympic.org.nz/games/gold-coast-2018/

  22. Ross 22

    And during today’s time trial on the road – which Hamish Bond was leading for a good portion – an advert is being shown while the winner crosses the finish line! That is beyond the pale.

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