Tokyo Olympics 2020: SKY TV confirms TVNZ as free-to-air partner

SKY TV has confirmed TVNZ as its free-to-air broadcast partner for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Under the agreement, SKY will carry 2020 Olympic coverage across 12 high-definition channels and streaming platforms, while TVNZ will feature 12 hours of action each afternoon and evening, with breaks for evening news show.

The partnership comes as something of a surprise, since they loomed as possible rivals for the broadcast rights. In an increasing competitive sports market, TVNZ beat out SKY for rights to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Last year, the state broadcaster also linked with Spark Sport to scoop 2019 Rugby World Cup rights from under SKY's nose. 

But if SKY lost ground to newcomer Spark's streaming potential, it has worked hard to regain that mantle, helped by the telco's spotty World Cup coverage. 

SKY has lost NZ Cricket to Spark after this summer, but secured the jewel in the crown - a five-year deal, reportedly worth $400 million, with NZ Rugby, which also became a stakeholder in the subscriber channel.

Earlier this month, SKY won rights for the next two Commonwealth Games in 2022 (Birmingham) and 2026.

"The Olympics is one of the most significant events on the sport calendar and we know that New Zealanders love to watch the many special moments it presents," says SKY chief executive Martin Stewart.

"We were delight to secure the rights for Tokyo 2020 and are please to now be bringing TVNZ on board as our free-to-air partner.

"The Olympics is one of those special events that can attract the attention of the whole country and this partnership with TVNZ will enable us to draw on the promotional power of our collective platforms to encourage viewership of Tokyo 2020 by the widest range of New Zealanders."

SKY has previously provided free-to-air sports coverage - including the 2016 Rio Olympics - through Prime. Stewart claims 2.8 million NZ viewers watched those Games.

"Our shared goal with TVNZ is to increase that viewership even further and surround New Zealand with Tokyo 2020."

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