Given we published a story in January about the Radio Network winning the rights to broadcast the Rugby World Cup, it was slightly surprising to get another release from its arch enemy MediaWorks Radio today saying it too had won broadcasting rights for the tournament.
MediaWorks new publicity manager Rachel Lorimer says she asked MediaWorks general manager of talk Jana Rangooni what she should say when asked about exclusivity and she was told "you don't want to have to sit down and read all this stuff". She put us on to Rangooni to answer our questions about what exactly MediaWorks was able to offer compared to its main competitor, but she didn't respond. The Radio Network's David Brice couldn't be reached either. But Rugby World Cup tournament director Kip McConnell says the main difference is the fact that MediaWorks won't be providing live commentary.
In a way, it's basically a second tier agreement similar to the 'cluster ruck' that is the TV deal, which sees Sky broadcasting all 48 games live and Maori TV and TVNZ offering delayed coverage of the big games. The Radio Network's Radio Sport will be broadcasting all 48 games live across 20 regions (just try and escape it, New Zealand) so as radio rights holder, rather than host broadcaster, MediaWorks can only offer live crosses.
The MediaWorks release says it will provide listeners with "match updates, expert opinion and analysis across its stable of stations [mainly through RadioLIVE and LIVESport, with Martin Devlin leading the coverage, but also in 22 MORE FM markets] broadcast to an audience in excess of 1.4 million".
Another difference in the deals is that Radio Sport will also fulfil host broadcaster responsibilities, providing commentary to overseas radio stations and www.rugbyworldcup.com. The All Black matches, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will also be broadcast on its sister station Newstalk ZB.
MediaWorks says its deal "will enable a wide range of promotional opportunities for Rugby World Cup 2011 commercial partners to leverage their association with the tournament throughout New Zealand", but, as we've already seen, the strict rules in place preclude companies without any official connection from linking themselves to the tournament without falling foul of the rules.