The Silver Lake proposal to buy commercial rights in the All Blacks' future income, put under the most intense light, ends up being an old-fashioned media rights play.
Silver Lake is forecasting they can more than double New Zealand Rugby's revenue in 10 years by revolutionising the way broadcast rights are sold.
The US fund manager believes it can identify and engage millions of overseas All Blacks fans, build a bigger audience and then extract higher value for the media rights which will enable them to turn $205m of NZR revenue this year into $447m by 2030.
The rising tide of opposition to doing a deal with Silver Lake is not driven by doubt that the investment house can't achieve its broadcast goals, it is founded on a conviction that the national body could deliver similar outcomes themselves without selling such a large stake of its future revenue.
Up until now, NZR has played it safe with content rights – preferring the traditional method of selling to domestic and international broadcasters.
For the last few years, though, there have been NZR board discussions about adopting a higher risk, potentially higher reward strategy with media rights.
In 2019 there was strong data to support the view that consumers are comfortable streaming games on multiple devices rather than relying on a satellite feed.
But the progressives on the board weren't able to convince the traditionalists that the time was right to change a winning formula and chief executive Steve Tew once again signed with Sky.
In the context of previous deals, NZR negotiated an outstanding price for domestic rights – with Sky's offer thought to be about a 30 per cent lift on the previous agreement.
But once Tew stood down in late 2019, progressives outweighed media conservatives and serious exploration began into the prospect of the national body building, owning and distributing their own content.
The progressives, had for some time, harboured a desire to follow the likes of the NBA and build a direct-to-consumer OTT platform.
The premise is relatively simple - instead of selling the rights at a fixed fee to a broadcaster, NZR would effectively become the broadcaster.
The financial rewards are potentially astronomical. If an OTT platform picked up the estimated 550,000 Sky Sport subscribers and then a similar number of offshore subscribers it could be looking at annual broadcast revenue of around $380 million, minus production, distribution and management costs of an estimated $70m a year.
The low-risk traditional route brings in about $80m-$90m a year, against the higher risk route of potentially $300m after costs.
The barriers to the go-it-alone route are the upfront and ongoing capital costs of building and running the platform; the non-exclusive ownership of the Rugby Championship and non-ownership of rights to the November tests played abroad; and the risk that the content, packaged on a stand-alone rugby site with no other sport, does not sell in line with forecasts.
Silver Lake have presented themselves – with a $387m cash offer – as a means to leap the first barrier, while also advocating that their links into Silicon Valley and other technology firms can provide access to expertise in the business of audience engagement and creation of an OTT platform.
But it is important to be clear – as is acknowledged by NZR's board - that the US fund manager is a conduit to, rather than owner of any human or intellectual capability.
Nor do Silver Lake have any proven track record or inherent expertise that would be relevant in helping NZR manage their relationship with Sanzaar, specifically in how it pertains to selling future broadcast rights.
The question that, therefore, is becoming increasingly hard to stop asking is whether NZR can achieve their broadcast ambitions without Silver Lake?
If NZR had an alternative source of capital – something potentially now possible given that Forsyth Barr have tabled a proposal to raise up to $190m through an IPO - could they go down this route, without having to yield 12.5 per cent of the net revenue to the Americans?
Many Kiwi entrepreneurs are adamant that NZR can succeed without Silver Lake.
They say that NZR could knock on all the same international doors as Silver Lake and find all the same people to employ, while also arguing there is a significant pool of capability in their own back yard, evidenced by the last two months, which has seen overseas investors spend in excess of $2bn buying New Zealand tech companies.
These experts also say that the creation of an NZR-owned OTT platform wouldn't preclude the national body from having simultaneous, traditional, territory-specific broadcast deals in place which would mitigate some of the financial risk.
Now that there is an alternative capital raise option on the table, the essence of what is now being asked is whether New Zealand Rugby can domestically fund and manage their global broadcast ambitions or whether Silver Lake are better placed and better able to sell the All Blacks to an international audience.