Cricket: Spark Sport nab cricket rights from Sky

Spark Sport will the place to be to see Kane Williamson hit 100s in the near future.
Spark Sport will the place to be to see Kane Williamson hit 100s in the near future. Photo credit: Photosport

Spark Sport is the new home of cricket after New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced a six-year broadcast deal with the streaming service.

On Thursday, NZC confirmed all games played in New Zealand will be streamed on Spark Sport from April 2020 when the current broadcast deal expires. 

The deal will see all Blackcaps and White Ferns fixtures played in New Zealand, as well as all men's and women's Super Smash games and the Ford Trophy one-day final, broadcast live on the streaming platform.

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

Spark chief executive, Jolie Hodson said this is a major coup in their quest for providing premium sports content for their customers. 

"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. 

"Our partnership with Cricket Australia gives us Black Caps tours in 2019/20 and 2020/21, along with all men's and women's international matches that will be played in Australia, BCCI [India] which includes Black Caps tours in 2021/22 and 2022/23, and the popular Indian Premier League.

"NZC has chosen a different path from 2020, and we wish them well." 

Customers have experienced streaming problems on Spark Sport.
Customers have experienced streaming problems on Spark Sport. Photo credit: Spark Sport

Newshub understands that Spark Sport made a significantly larger offer than Sky to obtain the rights, however sources say Sky was willing to concede cricket in order to strengthen their fight for SANZAAR rights, which expire at the end of next year. 

That would give Sky rights to all All Blacks tests, Super Rugby, and Rugby Championship matches. 

Spark Sport has come under fire of late after numerous customers experienced streaming problems during the Rugby World Cup. 

As of Wednesday, there had been over 186,000 Spark Sport subscriptions for the Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass.

Spark also holds the rights to English Premier League Football and Formula One.

 NZC chief executive David White hailed the new agreement as "ground-breaking." 

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

"Live streaming is the future. It allows viewers to free themselves from fixed linear schedules to watch live, delayed, highlighted or clipped content when and where they choose, and on a wide range of devices.

"Together with the free-to-air component provided by TVNZ, this accord means more cricket games than ever before will be broadcast live.

"It's timely that we make this move now, at a time when more New Zealanders than ever – and especially young Kiwis, consume their sports content through digital devices."


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