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Coliseum brings French rugby to Kiwi viewers: the good news and the bad

The company that stole English Premier League soccer and PGA Golf from Sky TV launches its latest venture. UPDATE: Hands-on.

Chris Keall
Fri, 28 Nov 2014

Nov: 30: The good news: Coliseum Sports Media's new French TOP 14 service offered good video streaming quality* when I checked in on five games ondemand this morning. The folks at CSM have learnt a lot about streaming over the past five months, or at least become more realistic for how much you have to budget for good HD content delivery.

The bad: All five games had French language commentary (over the season, CSM promises a mix of French and English commentary). I'm not sure how impressed fans who've shelled out their $49 will be with that.

"[Host broadcaster] Canal+ will have to address it for next season," CSM boss Tim Martin tells NBR. "We are pushing them on that."

For now, there are just two games a week in English.

"But it feels good to be in the rugby business," Martin says. "More announcements on that shortly."

One a sidenote, there were packed-out crowds at each TOP 14  game — larger than most Super Rugby fixtures; certainly those involving the Blues. (There's a mini-debate in Comments below on whether CSM is right to claim TOP 14 is on a par with Super Rugby. But that's really a bit of a tangent. This is more a story about new media and new technology offering sports fans more choice.)

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Nov 28: The company that stole English Premier League soccer and PGA Golf from Sky TV launches its latest venture this weekend.

Coliseum Sports Media, bankrolled by NBR Rich Lister Peter Cooper, will give Kiwi viewers access to French TOP 14 Rugby — another competition that was formerly the preserve of Sky.

Those who join the service at Top14pass.com ($49 for the season, or $5 per month) will be able to watch games live or ondemand.

As with CSM's existing PremierLeaguePass.com and PGATourLive.co.nz, you'll be able to watch games on a laptop or tablet, with cable and wi-fi options (if you've got the right gear) to stream the video to a regular television.

The commentary is in English [UPDATE: CSM says a mix of French and English], and the video quality goes up to full high definition if your internet connection's up to it.

It looks like another great example new media delivering us a niche that traditional broadcasters would never have filled — at least not to this degree.

I wouldn't know the TOP 14 from the back of my hand, but CSM boss Tim Martin says it's on a par with Super Rugby. He points out the French competition features no less than 20 ex-All Blacks, including Ali Williams, Carl Hayman, Rene Ranger and Zac Guildford, as well as current Springboks.

CSM's TOP 14 technology partner is NeuLion, the New York-based company that also provides the tech behind PremierLeaguePass.com. 

PremierLeaguePass.com kicked off last year with sometimes dodgy streaming. Since then it's had several upgrades and tweaks. My most recent experience of it (Monday morning as NZ time as Spurs coming from behind to defeat a mean and vicious Hull) was superb and seamless video on my ADSL (that is copper) home broadband connection.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

* As ever, the quality of any ondemand video service depends in part on the quality of your internet connection. We've got an ADSL2 (that is, copper) line into our home, which gets around 9Mbit/s to 10Mbit/s at off-peak times. That is to say, it's pretty average for an urban area.

Chris Keall
Fri, 28 Nov 2014
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Coliseum brings French rugby to Kiwi viewers: the good news and the bad
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