Although the Israel Folau story, I think, has trumped all others this week, it's one of those things I'm not sure we've made any progress on.

You either believe he has the right to do what he did, or you don't and I doubt many have shifted their view.

But right up there, if you think about it this week, and ironically tied in with sport, is the Spark-TVNZ deal on the Rugby World Cup. Nothing unites us more than sport, and no sport is more important to us than rugby. And the way we participate in it is fundamentally changing as of next year. And what makes this such a big deal, is whether it changes on a more permanent basis depends largely on how Spark performs.

So it's not just a deal or a contract or a one off.


This the connection between a country and its national game. What Spark is trying to do isn't new, it's done all over the world. But it's new here, and it's in a small country where change is always tricky, and more of us collectively are invested than most other larger more disparate populations.

If the World Cup is a mess, and the punters revolt, then New Zealand Rugby, which has no say in world cup rights but do in all other events like tests and Super Rugby, will be second guessing whether they deal with anyone other than Sky. Your Amazons and Googles and all the other global players who have been touted as potential bidders, will look at how this works and judge reaction and see if they want to dip their toe in. So in many respects Spark is brave, for two main reasons:

One. It's not a TV operator, it's a telco with streaming. Many New Zealanders don't stream. Forget all your Grey Lynn, media writer, linear-TV-is-dead trendies. They're pretenders who don't have a clue. Middle New Zealand watches rugby on a sofa with a beer and a big screen. Spark has to work out how to either get their stream on to that TV screen without bamboozling upsetting or putting off your subscriber, or get the punter enthused about watching rugby on a tablet, or hand out free smart TVs.

Two. They have to do something about the quality of the net. The idea that New Zealanders are going to put up with the All Blacks vs England in the World Cup Finals buffering, as Barrett sprints towards the try line in the 79th minute, is delusional. For all the baggage Sky carries it, 99 times out of a 100, deliver a professional product. And rural New Zealand in particular has a lot of very legitimate questions around access.

TVNZ as the free to air part of this, has the easy ride. They have seven games live: the opening, the final and no adds on the live games. There might be some debate around why the state broadcaster has so little product and how come we still have to pay for all of this, but that is the real world of sport and has been for 20 years.

As a model, a telco with cash, and a free to air telly company this is what's really exciting about the future of sport. Competition is never a bad thing. If it works, we the punters are the winners. And that's why this week's news has been such a big deal - there is so much to play for. Further good news: they've got a year and a half to work out how they're going to grab the opportunity, sort the buffering, solve the problems, and make this not just a win for the All Blacks but themselves as well.