Stan Sport: Everything we know so far

Formerly just a traditional streaming service, from 2021 Stan is moving into live sport which rugby fans will especially be keen for.

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Wallabies and Stan

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Australians are about to have yet another way to stream sport in 2021. On Monday 9 November the Nine-owned Stan announced it would be launching Stan Sport.

The announcement was made after striking a deal with the ARU, securing a smorgasbord of rugby union broadcast rights. A few days after that it confirmed it had also picked up some tennis. Here's everything we to know about Stan Sport.

What will be on Stan Sport?

Stan first announced it would be securing all the rugby on the Australian calendar and more exclusively for the next three years, live and most importantly ad-free. That includes the Bledisloe Cup, Super Rugby AU, Super Rugby Aotearoa, Shute Shield, The Rugby Championship, Super W, Hospital Cup, Mitre 10 Cup, Currie Cup and SANZAAR Union home games.

For those hoping to watch on free-to-air all Wallabies matches and one weekly Saturday Super Rugby AU game will be shown on Channel 9.

Following on from that announcement it also confirmed Stan Sport will be the home of the trans-Tasman tournament. The competition will see Super Rugby teams from Australia and New Zealand combine and compete in 25 crossover matches during the six-week tournament.

It won't just be rugby on the agenda. Stan Sport has landed the broadcast rights to two of the biggest grand slams in tennis for the next three years – Wimbledon and the French Open. Select coverage will still also be on Channel 9 meaning it will now have all grand slams except the US Open. Both Channel 7 and Fox Sports have lost the rights to the grand slams.

Given that Stan Sport was only announced to the world this week we'll be keeping our eye out for any more content it will add as it's clear Nine is committed to Stan Sport rather than just treating it as an experiment.

When will Stan Sport launch?

Stan Sport will launch in 2021 although there is no offical release date yet. However, based on the rights Stan Sport has it'll definitely launch by the start of the Super Rugby season which is scheduled to kick off on 19 February.

How much will Stan Sport cost?

At this stage there is no offical price for Stan Sport. All we know is it will be an additional pack to current Stan subscriptions. It's also not yet confirmed if you can only sign up for Stan Sport without a normal Stan subscription. Currently regular Stan memberships are between $10 and $19 per month.

However, based on other services in the market we can at least try to speculate a cost. Optus Sport only has football, boasting the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and another seven competitions for $14.99 per month. Kayo Sports starts at $25 per month, but has a very diverse content library with over 50 sports including every NRL, AFL and Australian cricket fixture live.

Given that so far Stan Sport will only host rugby and two tennis grand slams it'd make sense that it's cheaper than Kayo. At this stage the amount of content it has more mimics Optus Sport.

Where the two differ though is the exclusive premium content on Optus Sport, namely the EPL and UCL. Stan Sport's most valuable content will be the Wallabies fixtures which will be simulcast on Channel 9. Rugby viewership has also been on the decline in Australia in recent years making it harder to justify a higher price point.

So for that reason we'll speculate that Stan Sport will be closer to the $10 per month mark. If it adds more content than it might be a different story.

Why is Stan getting into sport?

There are two big reasons that Stan is spreading its wings. The first is a turf war and the second is external threats, but both are due to competition.

To be frank Stan is going head to head with Foxtel. It made a big play earlier in the year to get the HBO rights from Foxtel, but was unsuccessful. Both companies are fighting for the crown of Australia's most popular streaming service. In August Stan reported it had 2.2 million subscribers.

Just last week News Corp reported the total Foxtel Group which is made up of Kayo Sports, BINGE, Foxtel and Foxtel Now is now up to 3.3 million subscribers. Kayo had reached 644,000 subscribers and BINGE 290,000.

Considering how much longer Foxtel has been around for, Stan's subscriber numbers are fairly solid in comparison. Not letting Kayo solely have a sports streaming market share is going to be a key battle.

The other reason is that Stan needs content. As Stan isn't the size of Netflix or Prime Video its content library is heavily made up of third-party content rather than originals. In years gone by that wasn't an issue.

However, with so many media companies now launching their own streaming services made up only of titles that they own, it's a big threat to Stan's business model. Last year when Disney+ launched Stan lost the rights to all of its Marvel, Star Wars and Disney content.

That left Stan with a very valuable Showtime contract which gives it the rights to things like Yellowstone and Billions. Except that could also potentially be under threat with the arrival of Paramount+ in 2021. Without a doubt that's part of what prompted Stan to create 30 new originals in the next 5 years and diversify by moving into sport.

As mentioned at the top, Nine is launching Stan Sport due to competition and new opportunities. Sports broadcast rights in Australia are extremely valuable as seen by the success of Optus Sport and Kayo Sports so far. Sports broadcast rights are also almost always sold to third parties such as ESPN, beIN SPORTS, Fox Sports or others, which for now reduces the risk of a brand new service launching that solely owns the right to an entire sport.

For those reasons Nine has seen an opportunity to minimise the threat to Stan and launch Stan Sport.

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