Joseph Romanos writes at Stuff:
A second Rugby World Cup has been playing out behind the scenes in New Zealand, and it’s been just as torrid as the one that has so engrossed us since September 9.
Rugby fans have been able to watch key World Cup matches live on no less than five New Zealand channels – TV One, TV3, Maori (English version), Maori (Maori language version) and Sky.
The battle for viewers has been fascinating.
TV One began sensationally, drawing 1.015 million viewers for the first match, New Zealand against Tonga. This immediately followed the opening ceremony, also a TV One triumph.
For that first match Sky had an audience of 442,000 and Maori Television, 177,000.
As the tournament has progressed, however, the big mover has been Maori Television.
By the quarterfinals, Maori Television was the most popular of the free-to-air channels. At times its audience was virtually the combined viewership of TV One and TV3.
For the New Zealand v Argentina quarter-final, Maori Television drew 501,000, behind Sky (628,000), but well ahead of TV One (420,000) and TV3 (236,000). It has continued to rate extremely well.
Maori TV have done an excellent job with their coverage and viewers have voted with their feet. The fact they started off with 20% of the audience of TV One, and at the quarter final had more viewers is a huge tribute to them. They are showing that in many ways they are becoming our national public service broadcaster.
Tahu Potiki, a director of Maori TV, also writes:
I recall the many sceptical, sometimes scathing, comments when it was announced Maori Television was to be the lead broadcaster for the Rugby World Cup, and the political stoush that surrounded the bidding process, but it certainly seems to have been a good choice. It is unclear what the differentiating factor is, but the uninterrupted broadcast is most likely playing a part.
I know I got home late one day and turned television on just in time to catch the last bit of the national anthems. Immediately the teams had finished singing the coverage halted and we crossed to an advertisement or a promotion. I realised then I was watching the wrong channel and changed quickly to Maori TV.
I’ve watched some on Sky Sports and some on Maori TV. Have not decided yet for the final but will probably be Maori TV to hear Keith Quinn hopefully declare the All Blacks the World Champions!