New Zealand Cricket puts faith in Spark Sport with six-year rights deal – SportsPro Media

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OTT service to air all home internationals with TVNZ picking up small FTA package.

New Zealand Cricket puts faith in Spark Sport with six-year rights deal

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Sports streaming subscription service Spark Sport has secured the domestic rights to all of New Zealand Cricket’s (NZC) men’s and women’s home internationals for six years starting from April 2020.

The deal includes all Blackcaps and White Ferns matches played in New Zealand, along with the Super Smash Twenty20 competition and the domestic one-day final.

Launched by telecommunications firm Spark in March, Spark Sport will also house a range of non-live content, including educational and coaching pieces, review shows and highlights, which will be available on a free-to-view and paid basis.

NZC’s latest domestic broadcast agreement also includes some live cricket on free-to-air, with Television New Zealand (TVNZ) picking up rights to the first T20 international of each men’s and women’s series, as well as Super Smash matches.

The West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Australia are all set to tour New Zealand during the first year of the agreement, while the India and England women’s teams are scheduled to take on the White Ferns during the 2020/21 season.

“This is a deal which future-proofs the whole of cricket in New Zealand,” said NZC chief executive David 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.”

The deal with Spark will end NZC’s longstanding broadcast partnership with pay-TV operator Sky NZ, which has held the rights to New Zealand’s home fixtures since 1995. 

Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson described the agreement as “another major step” towards building “a profitable sports media business”.

Hodson added: “Cricket is an iconic sport that has continued to innovate. So we’re excited to announce this new partnership with New Zealand Cricket, one that cements our place as a significant player in New Zealand’s sports viewing landscape.”

The deal might come as a concern to some cricket fans in New Zealand given some of the initial challenges Spark Sport has faced in the months since its launch.

The streaming platform is the only place in New Zealand to watch every match of the ongoing Rugby World Cup, but users have complained about the quality of the streaming, while there are some households in rural areas of the country that do not have sufficient internet connectivity available to access the service.

Jeff Latch, the head of Spark Sport, revealed earlier this week that the company had started offering home technician visits to customers with streaming issues after a group of rugby fans on Facebook threatened to sue the company for NZ$250 million for its botched Rugby World Cup coverage.

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