The Rugby World Cup is coming and while it looks like bars will open in the wee hours to show the games, maybe you just want to watch it on your couch with a cup of Milo.

Sky and Prime TV are your only options for seeing live games.

Sky Sport has live coverage of every match. On Prime, there will be live coverage of the opening ceremony and the first game between England and Fiji. Following that, Prime will have delayed coverage of every All Blacks pool match and highlights from other games. As the tournament moves into its knock-out stages, Prime will show two quarter-finals, one semi-final, the bronze final and the grand final, all live. Prime will release broadcast times closer to the tournament.

This means the cheapest option is keeping away from spoilers and watching delayed free-to-air coverage on Prime. Sadly though, Prime only broadcasts in standard definition (SD), which is no good if you have a high-definition (HD) TV.

So what’s the cheapest option if you want every game live? We looked at what HD and SD options are on offer.

The World Cup runs from 19 September through to 1 November. This is 7 weeks or 2 months (inclusive). We compared the 7 ways you can watch the World Cup live and added up the costs.

  1. Sky basic and sports package, SD, 6 months.
  2. Sky basic and sports package, HD, 6 months.
  3. Sky basic and sports package (dropped after World Cup), SD, 6 months.
  4. Sky basic and sports package (dropped after World Cup), HD, 6 months.
  5. Sky basic and sports package, SD, 2 months.
  6. Sky basic and sports package, HD, 2 months.
  7. Fan Pass, HD, 7 weeks.

Options 1-4 take advantage of Sky’s current offer of 1 month of free Sky Sport with a 6-month subscription. To make things cheaper, Options 3 and 4 drop the extra Sky Sport package after the World Cup is over.

Options 5 and 6 are only for 2 months and take advantage of Sky’s current offer of MySky on a no-fixed-term contract.

Fan Pass is Sky’s digital option. Instead of needing a decoder, you watch via an app on your computer, phone or tablet. If you have Apple TV, you can stream Fan Pass to your TV too. This service streams everything in HD. Fan Pass has expanded to include streaming of Sky Sport’s channels. Unlike Fan Pass’ other offerings, there is no on-demand viewing of Sky Sport, just live streaming. This is charged weekly (or daily) rather than monthly.

To watch Sky broadcasts in HD you need a MySky or MySky+ decoder, which is an extra $15-$20 per month respectively, and to buy an “HD Access Ticket”, which costs $10 per month. We factored these costs into our calculations.

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5 Option 6 Option 7
Avg month $72.80 $95.29 $53.94 $66.43 $92.51 $102.50 $86.62
Total $436.77 $571.71 $323.61 $398.55 $185.02 $205.00 $139.93

By far the cheapest option is Fan Pass, which costs $140 for 7 weeks. We tried Fan Pass during the Super Rugby season and found it reliable but with a few annoying quality issues when watching live. We tried it again during the second Bledisloe match this year and found similar issues. When we watched the Silver Ferns World Cup final, the picture was blocky and almost unwatchable at times.

Fan Pass is certainly better than the Sky Go service (free online streaming for Sky subscribers), but right now has too many glitches for us to recommend it for watching live sport.

We think your best options are getting Sky and Sky Sport on an open-term contract and then cancelling after the World Cup. This costs $185 for SD or $205 for HD. These options (5 and 6) come with a MySky decoder too, so you can record games and relive all those All Black victories.

by Hadyn Green