NZ Rugby becomes Sky TV shareholder in new 'revolutionary' five-year broadcast deal

New Zealand Rugby has awarded Sky TV a new five-year rights deal that sees the national sporting organisation become a financial investor in the broadcaster.

The partners confirmed the new contract on Monday, after news leaked out last week. Reports claimed the deal was worth $400 million, although neither side has confirmed that number.

After losing cricket coverage to Spark Sport after next summer, Sky has landed the big fish in the sports broadcast market - all NZR products, including the All Blacks, Super Rugby, Mitre 10 Cup and other domestic competitions.

"A special part of this deal is the 5 percent equity stake that NZR is taking in Sky," says Sky chief executive Martin Stewart.

"We have long known that there is mutual benefit when each of us succeeds and we're pleased that NZR is becoming an investor in Sky."

Sky's successful bid for rugby broadcast rights was no doubt helped by Spark's struggles to provide satisfactory streaming coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

Customers have bombarded the telecommunications outfit with complaints over the standard of its service over the three weeks, raising doubts about its long-term viability.

"This is a great result for NZR," insists chief executive Steve Tew. "We not only have a vastly experienced broadcast partner, but we have a partner prepared to work and invest with us in initiatives that will help grow the game over a prolonged period of time.

"For rugby in New Zealand, this is a hugely significant agreement that secures the long-term financial health of our game."

One huge benefit of Spark's entry into the sports broadcast market has undoubtedly been an improved relationship between Sky and sports organisations, with the broadcaster increasing its investment and profile through sponsorship.

Sky Sport is a naming-rights sponsor for the NZ Breakers basketball team and the Wellington Regional Stadium - currently known as Westpac Stadium or 'The Cake Tin' - will become Sky Stadium from January.