Cricket: Fans outraged as Sky lose broadcasting rights to Spark Sport

Angry cricket fans have taken to social media to express their frustrations following the announcement that Spark Sport has won the rights to New Zealand's summer pastime.

NZ Cricket (NZC) announced a six-year deal with the streaming service on Thursday, with all the games played in New Zealand to be streamed on Spark Sport from April 2020, when the current broadcast deal with Sky expires.

In addition, TVNZ is partnering with NZC to provide live, free-to-air coverage on TVNZ 1 for selected matches. 

Spark Sport has come under fire for streaming problems during the Rugby World Cup (RWC), and now cricket fans are expressing their outrage at the cricket announcement.

"This is ridiculous. David White [NZC chief executive] needs to go," one Twitter user said.

"How many pixels in a cricket ball compared to a rugby ball?" another wrote.

One added it will cause the death of cricket in New Zealand, while others said it's an "awful" and "terrible" decision.

"Summer won't be the same," another wrote.

Despite the complaints, some said they were pleased with the decision.

"Well done Spark, people need to get used to streaming sport and stop whinging," one Twitter user wrote.

"I live in west Otago and have watched more of the RWC now that it is on Spark Sport than ever before. I can start watching even if I am still out on the farm," another said. "The cost is way less than Sky and more user-friendly. I know some people are having issues but I am grateful Sky lost it."

In a statement on Thursday, White hailed the new agreement as "ground-breaking." 

"This is a deal which future-proofs the whole of cricket in New Zealand," White said.

Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson said it was a "major coup".

Customers have experienced streaming problems during the Rugby World Cup.
Customers have experienced streaming problems during the Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Spark Sport

"This partnership with NZC is another major step towards Spark's strategy of building a profitable sports media business that offers viewers a range of premium domestic and international sporting events over Spark Sport at an affordable price and across an array of devices," she said. 

While Sky has lost the rights to games in New Zealand, they'll still broadcast Blackcaps games played overseas.

"While we would have liked to retain the local NZC rights from next season, we will continue to offer some of the best cricket the world has to offer, including exciting international fixtures involving the Black Caps on tour," Sky said in a statement.