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Stan Sport eye smart televisions as solution to rugby’s pub blackout

Tabcorp officials were initially concerned Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys – who is also the chairman of the ARL Commission – had not been consulted prior to the deal being done, and continue to see little upside to having rugby competing with racing for screens in pubs.

The other two providers of satellite feeds to pubs – Optus and Foxtel – are not viable partners for Stan as the former has limited coverage in venues across the country, and the latter not only lost the rugby rights to Nine but will be showing NRL and AFL.

Pub-goers were unable to watch the Brumbies’ win over the Force on Friday night.

Pub-goers were unable to watch the Brumbies’ win over the Force on Friday night.Credit:Getty

That has left Stan executives with little choice but to think outside the square.

Sources with knowledge of Stan’s strategy told the Herald streaming direct to smart devices – including televisions – was a viable option.

That would cut the need for a middle man with a satellite connection, and allow pubs which want to show rugby to do so either through smart televisions, Apple TV, Chromecast, Telstra TV or any other device which hosts the Stan app.

While that option is attractive to Stan, it could take time to roll out and means there is no set date when pubs and clubs will be able to broadcast rugby.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told the Herald it was highly unlikely the second round of Super Rugby AU would be broadcast in pubs.

While Stan work out a solution, both Nine and Rugby Australia executives were thrilled with the audience that tuned in for the Reds’ record-breaking win against the Waratahs.

The Herald has learned the match was watched by about 200,000 people across 9Gem and Stan Sport. About 150,000 of those viewers tuned in on Nine’s secondary channel and the other 50,000 watched via Stan’s new streaming arm.

Combined, the numbers tripled the total viewership for the corresponding match in the first round last year.

“Friday night’s launch of Rugby on both Stan Sport and 9Gem was hugely successful, exceeding all expectations,” Nine director of sport Brent Williams said.

“We look forward to growing on this strong base as we continue to work closely with Rugby Australia, the teams and players to build our coverage throughout the season.”

Rugby Australia chief Andy Marinos described the increased viewership as “overwhelming”.

“It was a great start to our new partnership with Nine and Stan Sport and a special thanks must go to Hugh (Marks), Mike (Sneesby) and their broader team,” Marinos said.

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“The community response has been overwhelming. People have been telling me how much they loved the new look and feel of the broadcast, the accessibility of the games as well as the quality on display.

“This is just the beginning though and we look forward to growing with Nine and Stan throughout the Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU season.”

On the field, the Waratahs are sweating on two sets of scans due Monday. New NSW captain Jake Gordon and promising centre Joey Walton both suffered ankle injuries in their side’s record breaking loss to the Reds.

If Gordon is sidelined for an extended period of time, Waratahs coach Rob Penney will be forced to hand the captaincy to an untested leader such as Jack Maddocks or Jack Dempsey.

Penney will also be without centre Izaia Perese for three matches. Perese was shown a red card for a spear tackle on Hunter Paisami and won’t be available until the Waratahs’ round six clash with the Reds.

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