Fairfax has teamed up with Sky Sport, linking its Fan Pass offering to the Stuff news site allowing rugby fans to live stream the World Cup games for a fee.
The partnership, which has been in the pipeline for sometime now and was introduced with a soft launch last Friday, offers live streaming of all World Cup games on Stuff, with Stuff members receiving a 10 percent discount for the service.
Sky's Fan Pass was launched in August and gives non-subscribers access to NRL, Formula One and Super Rugby.
“Obviously we’ve very much driven by providing our audience with excellent second screen coverage of the rugby,” says Fairfax’s national sports editor Aaron Lawton. “In the past, broadcasting has been an area which we can’t venture into so we try to give live coverage of blogs and stats and this is one step further. We started talking with them and [the partnership] was fuelled by the fact that we had a big rugby world cup on the horizon.”
So who is covering the 10 percent discount?
Lawton says he can’t say who is covering the 10 percent discount. “I wouldn’t want to go into too much detail into the agreement …”
StopPress has contacted the communications team at Fairfax to find out more on this, and will update the story when more information comes to light.
He says the arrangement isn’t unusual as they aren’t direct competitors. “A lot of what we cover is a lot of the chatter, whereas Sky screens sports events, so it seems like an obvious fit. We want to give our readers as much as we possibly can. And until now we haven’t had the ability to stream these broadcasted events,” he says.
“We have blogs, photo galleries, match stats and there was one thing missing and that’s the live stream and it’s an important part of the sporting landscape. So when an opportunity came along it seemed like a natural fit.”
"Fan Pass helps us to provide added value to Stuff members, complement our coverage of the Rugby World Cup and drive audience growth on stuff.co.nz,” he says.
He says the discussions started with Fairfax’s product development team.
“They identified an opportunity or an area to look at and from there they started some initial discussions and I came in once the ball was rolling, but our product development team led by Robert Hutchinson who wanted to explore the area. Then Mark Steven, head of digital, came on board and it sort of ramped up in the last few weeks really.”
Initiatives like this really get moving when you’ve got an event like the Rugby World Cup, he says. “It’s amazing when you think of these big companies and there is always a mentality that big companies don’t move quickly. But we wanted to move quickly and get things done … “
He says he’s not sure how many Stuff readers have signed up yet. “An All Blacks test just finished an hour ago so I haven’t got up-to-date figures … But we started with a soft launch where it was slow and steady and we were just linking through to Fan Pass with in-text links and we are slowly ramping it up, so I expect to see bigger numbers coming up.”
He says he can’t really comment on Fairfax’s wider strategy but he says he thinks if it all goes well with the Rugby World Cup Fairfax would be keen to continue the partnership in regard to sport with Sky.
“Tonight on Stuff there is also the opportunity for our readers to watch the NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos. It’s [the strategy] has been driven around trying to get something in time for the cup but not excluding us from looking at other sports too. The live element is a really big part of what we do, like live scoring of NRL games, etcetera. But tonight is the start of something different and if you click on the site at 9 45pm tonight the Fan Pass will be embedded in that live scoring page,” he says.
“You can sign in, pay your money and watch the NRL. So that’s the ultimate really. We want to provide the ultimate second screen for our readers.”
This is an opportunity to try different things, he says. “We’ve got three reporters on the ground [at the World Cup]. We have the deal with Fan Pass providing readers with the opportunity to watch the live stream. We will work with Sky on this at a case-by-case basis over the next few weeks, just like we have with the NRL games.”
He says this is the start of something exciting. “We are rapt to get something over the line and are really enjoying the start of this partnership. It’s a real opportunity for our readers. It gives us a point of difference. We’re really excited about the opportunities that lay ahead.”
Fairfax managing director Simon Tong said isn’t against working with other media outfits. He said earlier at an MPA conference he had a desire to collaborate. As he said, in the banking industry, cartel was a good word. In keeping with this goal, Fairfax and NZME decided to share printing facilities last year. And he said Fairfax had recently done a deal with MediaWorks.
The Fan Pass site provides one-week, one-month or season-long options, with prices ranging from $19.90 for a week of NRL to $299 for season of any of the available sports.
Stuff’s website says a day pass is normally $14.99 and a week pass is normally $19.99.