Thursday, August 02, 2007

Setanta RWC Canadian rights update

Another update (Tues. morning), from Shane O'Rourke, the president of North American operations for Setanta:

RWC live on Broadband all of it.

Setanta Sports Pack $14.99 on Bell and Rogers will include 25 live or near live games.

23 games on ppv $199 and delayed 24-48 hours later as part of the $14.99.

Getting closer. I think. Anyone care to decipher what any of that means...?

There are 40 pool stage matches alone. I would hope the $199 would get me everything live. I shall try to find out...

Yet another update (Fri. morning), from a press release at Rugby Canada:


August 02, 2007
Toronto, ON

Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports announced today a licensing arrangement through which they will jointly offer Canadian broadcasting distributors a pay-per-view (PPV) sports package dedicated to bringing the best international sporting events to Canadian fans, including live coverage of exclusive English Premier League games as well as Rugby World Cup 2007. Rogers Cable and Bell ExpressVu are expected to offer the package with an initial free preview period.

Beginning August 11, the Setanta International Sports Pak will be a must have for soccer fans, with six out of ten LIVE weekly broadcasts of the world's most watched sporting league, Barclays English Premier League (EPL). A further two games will be shown on a delayed basis. The August schedule for the PPV package includes Sam Allardyce's return to Bolton on the first day of the season, Sven Goran Ericsson's first Manchester Derby on the 19th and Roy Keane's first test against one of the big four - Liverpool, on the 25th.

Rugby fans will get into the action as well. The Setanta International Sports Pak will feature the Rugby World Cup 2007; and the best international and club rugby including Guinness Premiership, Super 14, RBS Six Nations and the Heineken European Cup.

"We know first-hand from our weekly matches on Rogers Sportsnet that Canadian fans are passionate about English Premier League as well as other international sports," said Tony Viner, President & CEO, Rogers Media. "Our partnership with Setanta, one of the leading sports broadcasters in the international market, will give Canadians the most access to the best European and international soccer and rugby leagues.

"We are committed to providing Canadian audiences with the highest quality international soccer and rugby programming and this new partnership with Rogers Broadcasting ensures sports fans won't miss a minute of Europe and the World's best," said Roger Hall, chief executive, Setanta Sports North America. "We are delighted that Rogers Broadcasting are our partners in Canada where they have unrivaled experience of providing great sports television to Canada."

The Setanta International Sports Pak will be available on PPV beginning August 11 with the season's first live EPL match between Sunderland vs. Tottenham Hotspur at 7:45am ET. Soccer and rugby fans can contact their local provider for more details on pricing and availability of the PPV package in their market.

Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports hope to establish a digital channel dedicated to soccer and rugby in the future.

That's good news, but I do get the feeling rugby is a big afterthought here, and I'm still unsure about the nitty-gritty vis-a-vie the RWC. What do they mean by "offer[ing] Canadian broadcasting distributors a pay-per-view (PPV) sports package"?

Will this be a high-end digital cable channel with high dollars per test a-la a De La Hoya - Mosley fight? I am hearing it may be $15 to $25 per test match (the upper strata presumably for the knock-out stages) and Ms. France confirms below a complete PPV RWC package of all the games for $199. None of these prices seems particularly cheap for anybody aside from the dedicated rugby devotee.

If those rumoured prices are reality, then fans wanting to just grab the RWC may find the CND$14.99 "monthly" broadband subscription offer a better way to go. We shall see...

That last point, quote, "Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports hope to establish a digital channel dedicated to soccer and rugby in the future" - what does that mean? That they will have to go through the hoop-jumping of a CRTC license application? Telelatino was issued a CRTC Tier 2 specialty digital cable license 18 months ago for a specialty sports channel called "RCS" (Rugby-Cricket-Soccer) and those foot-draggers are still stalled, not answering questions, with no sign of a launch date in sight. I suppose it doesn't hurt that Rogers is a cable service provider, owns SportsNet and has wads of cash, and the one thing the CRTC understands is $$$. But that's probably a ways past the RWC. I'll doubtless pony up the cash for the complete package, but I still don't see how this deal helps showcase rugby's global event in front of new eyeballs to help grow and develop the sport in Canada.

Believe me, I've been trying to get answers on these questions for most of 2007, and every press release leaves as many confusing open questions for every answer they are supposedly clarifying.

Another update (Fri. morning), seeking some more clarification, Setanta rep Jessica France informs me:

Setanta has exclusive rights to the Rugby World Cup. Some games will be live on the channel and some will be delayed. The games that are delayed on the channel will most likely be offered live on a PPV basis from several companies, but we have not yet gotten confirmation from them.

The games that are not live on the channel will be live on Setanta Premium, which is accessible by bars/commercial establishments ONLY. You can find a bar that has purchased the package by using the venue finder on our website.

We will have a schedule of all the games on our website soon. Our premium schedule lists the games that will be live on premium only--those are the games that will be delayed on the Setanta channel.

Alternatively, all games will be live on Setanta Broadband--please visit and choose "Setanta Broadband" for more information on package prices. I believe that it is $199 for the RWC PPV package, or if you subscribe to the annual Broadband package, then it is $149.99 for the year and that includes all PPV matches including the RWC. If you have any queries about this service, please contact the Broadband support at

Quick update (Thurs. afternoon) to the post immediately below, re: Setanta's new Canadian broadband launch;

I knocked-off a query to Setanta, asking:

1. Your broadband release says, "In September, the entire Rugby World Cup 2007 will be included as part of an annual subscription." Will "monthly" subscribers also receive the "entire" RWC package?

2. Does Setanta have a broadcast partner to televise the RWC on Canadian television (cable, digital cable, or PPV)?

Setanta representive Jessica France replied promptly, telling me:

We will be launching our Sports PPV Pack on Bell Express and Rogers Cable at the start of the EPL season (Aug 11). I'd hold off on calling the call center, though, because they probably won't have any info until we actually launch. Please keep an eye on the websites for any updates. The channel will be $14.99 CDN per month, and the free preview time period will vary depending on your carrier.

The pack will basically be the same as the channel that we currently have in the U.S., a mixture of both soccer and rugby. Due to various reasons, no magazine or highlights shows will be shown on the new Canadian Sports Pack. Please visit for more details on our offerings.

That doesn't precisely answer my question, nor confirm how the RWC will be broadcast on Setanta's Canadian cable channel, but we're starting to get closer...

Stay tuned!


At 12:52 AM , Anonymous Nursedude said...

Here in the States, when I first got Direct TV a few years ago, I was able to see a fair amount of rugby on what was then "Fox World Sports", then became Fox Soccer Channel. By then, they were showing just one game a week-usally at 2 in the morning in my part of the US.(I live in Minnesota, just below western Ontario and Manitoba). In doing channel surfing, it seemed like Setanta had a TON of rugby on, so I added them to my sports pack, for about 10 extra bucks a month. What a great investment! I see more rugby in one month now than what I used to see in MONTHS on Fox. It's really the gift that keeps giving.


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