Now TV tipped to show rugby cup

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am


PCCW's Now TV has emerged as the clear frontrunner to broadcast this year's Rugby Union World Cup in Hong Kong.

IMG, the tournament's official broadcasting rights company, confirmed to the Sunday Morning Post that PCCW had gained the rights to televise the competition, but then retracted the statement saying a decision was still pending.

Despite this U-turn, the Setanta Sports Channel is confident PCCW will obtain the broadcasting rights since it will not show the World Cup in Hong Kong itself. Setanta, a 24/7 international rugby channel, was launched on January 26 on Now TV for a monthly fee of HK$128.

'To our knowledge, PCCW has obtained the rights for the World Cup, and it has just to be confirmed,' a spokesman for Setanta Sports Channel said. 'I would be gob-smacked if the deal hasn't already been done - it's just that it hasn't been announced yet.

'It would have been agreed upon at an early stage, because everybody else's broadcast rights have been and they are all promoting the event on their channels.

'The very fact that it's not being shown in Hong Kong by the likes of ESPN Star Sports, which is showing it in the rest of Asia, would clearly indicate that somebody has definitely already secured the broadcasting rights.'

ESPN Star Sports has recently been promoting the fact it will be broadcasting the showpiece event in Macau and on the mainland, but it will not screen it in Hong Kong.

'It may well be simply the case that PCCW has not yet decided exactly how much it is going to charge for showing it and on which of its channels it will broadcast it,' the Setanta spokesman said.

PCCW said it would not comment because discussions about the rights were continuing.

The Setanta channel has, for the first time, brought Hong Kong viewers a comprehensive line-up of rugby from both the northern and southern hemispheres, including live coverage of the RBS Six Nations and the Super Rugby, and seemed the most obvious channel to show the World Cup.

'The deal for the World Cup would have been done a long time ago, most likely before we would have been 100 per cent certain to even be in the market for it in Asia,' the Setanta spokesman said.