Football deal a UFB wake up call: Key

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 08:34 24/06/2013

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A deal to give English Premier League to an online provider will be a ''wake up call'' for Kiwis about the need for ultra-fast broadband, John Key says.

Last week it was confirmed Coliseum Sport Media Management had bought the rights to show the premier league in New Zealand for the next three seasons.

Out-bidding Sky TV for the rights, Coliseum plans to launch an internet platform to broadcast the competition.

Speaking on NewtalkZB this morning, Key said it was unlikely the Government would have to intervene if a similar situation occurred for the rights to broadcast rugby.

Instead, Kiwis who wanted to watch live sport would be forced to consider ultra-fast broadband (UFB), which is being rolled out by the Government.

''The very fact that this has happened, for a whole lot of people, will be a wake up call, that actually, they're going to want ultra fast broadband,'' Key said.

''If you get more and more content, which you will get by the way, over the net... if you want to receive it and you want to receive it instantly, then you're going to have to take it that way, and therefore you're going to need ultra-fast broadband to support it.''

The Government has set aside $1.3 billion as it targets having three quarters of New Zealanders connected to fibre by 2020.

This month it was reported that of the  172,000 who can connect to the UFB network, only 5000 have done so.

Key dismissed claims that the take-up was low.

''It's like saying 'I've built half a motorway and no one's driving on it'. We always knew that you've actually got to build it and then the [internet service providers] come out with all the offerings.''

UFB would be a ''challenge'' for Sky TV, because over time three quarters of Kiwis would have the capacity to watch television, probably in high definition, over the internet.

''You and I might say, 'look, I don't want to watch an English soccer match on my laptop, and that might be true, but they've got the capacity to pump that straight into your television.''

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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