Microsoft will provide $2 million in software and technology as an official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup, it was announced at Eden Park this morning.
In return for providing desktop and server software licences, Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston says the company receives the use of a corporate box at Eden Park during the event, tickets to games in other centres, and the naming rights as sponsor.
Muckleston expects a number of very senior Mircosoft executives to visit New Zealand during the event – which he told the audience was just 162 days away – but he was not able to say if these would include founder Bill Gates or CEO Steve Ballmer. He says they will shortly be announcing competitions whereby members of the public can win the opportunity to watch tournament games at the Microsoft corporate box.
He says the sponsorship was in part brokered by David Downs, former services director at Microsoft NZ, who is now based in Singapore, heading up consulting and professional support for South East Asia and emerging markets.
Among the technology provided by Microsoft for the Rugby World Cup will be Silverlight Player but Ross Young, general manager for Rugby World Cup Limited, says this does not mean any change to online broadcasting rights.
Young characterised the Microsoft sponsorship as a tier below the worldwide partner category, which includes Mastercard and Heineken. He says there is currently no telecommunications sponsor.
It is expected there will be 1.5 million tickets sold to matches during the event, and a further four billion people watching broadcasts around the world.