People will be able to watch the entire Rugby World Cup on Spark Sport for $59.99 if they take advantage of a "super early bird special" that will go on sale next month, Spark has announced.
More games than previously signalled will also be available free-to-air on TVNZ.
The price to watch all 48 matches live and "on-demand" on Spark Sport increases to $79.99 if rugby fans leave buying a pass until June, and Spark will bump the price up to $89.99 during the nine days before the tournament starts on September 20.
The pricing is designed to encourage fans to sign up to watch the RWC on Spark Sport early, its head Jeff Latch said.
But all the prices are below the $100 that managing director Simon Moutter suggested the event could cost when Spark first confirmed it had won the rights to the tournament a year ago.
As an alternative to buying a pass, people will be able to pay $24.99 to watch individual matches online once the tournament starts.
Twelve matches including all All Blacks' pool games and its quarter-final – assuming the team qualifies – as well as the semifinals and final will also be broadcast free-to-air on TVNZ 1.
The semifinals and final and four other games will be shown live by TVNZ, with the other five "free" matches, including the All Blacks' pool games and a potential quarterfinal screening with a one-hour delay.
Those 12 matches plus two others will also be available free online through Spark Sport.
Latch said Spark's pricing for its internet streaming service would make the event "truly affordable for all New Zealanders".
"Spark Sport is the only place rugby fans will be able to watch every single game live."
But Spark was also offering more free matches than it had first planned, through its partnership with TVNZ, "to ensure that everyone in New Zealand can watch the All Blacks from the comfort of their own home", he said.
There had been concerns tens of thousands of homes without high-speed broadband might not otherwise be able to watch the All Blacks play at the tournament in Japan.
As well as being able to watch matches live and on-demand, RWC pass-holders will also be able to watch replays and highlights for 30 days following each match.
Internet users do not need to have their broadband with Spark to use Spark Sport.
Spark said most commercial premises, which include bars, would be able to buy access to the RWC at the same price as consumers, describing that as "a special one-off offer".
Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said on Wednesday he had been receiving regular updates from Spark on how its plans for the RWC were proceeding.
He thanked Spark then for the "constant updates."
It is understood the Government has been concerned it could get a share of any misdirected anger if there were major problems.
But Spark's decision to allow TVNZ to show the All Blacks games with at most a one-hour delay may mitigate that.
Spark said it could also switch any other matches live to TVNZ's Duke channel "at a few minutes' notice" if there was a "widespread and significant issue" streaming them through Spark Sport.
While Spark was not expecting problems, it was better to have a back-up plan, Latch said.
Faafoi said on Wednesday that "for a whole lot of reasons", the Government had wanted to "make sure that probably the largest-watched sporting event every four years is a good experience for New Zealanders, so we have been keeping in very close contact with everyone who is involved".
"From a Government perspective we want to make sure the country has a positive viewing experience.
"We are obviously very aware that it is [Spark's] commercial operation," he added.
Latch said people who bought Spark Sport RWC passes once they went on sale in May would get immediate access to content such as matches from past tournaments so they could "relive the excitement of previous years".
Spark Sport and TVNZ coverage will not screen adverts during game time, a Spark spokeswoman said. Ads will screen before the game begins, during half time and after the final whistle, but not during during game stoppages or extra time.
FREE GAMES ON TVNZ
20 September, Japan v Russia: Live
21 September, NZ v South Africa: Delayed by 1 hour
28 September, Tonga v Argentina: Live
2 October, NZ v Canada: Delayed by 1 hour
4 October, South Africa v Italy: Live
6 October, NZ v Namibia: Delayed by 1 hour
9 October, Fiji v Wales: Live
12 October, NZ v Italy: Delayed by 1 hour
One quarter final: TBC, but will be the NZ match, assuming the team progress past the pool stage: Delayed by 1 hour
26 October, semi-final: Live
27 October, semi-final: Live
2 November, final: Live
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