Challenge to Sky NZ grows as Spark announces new content for streaming
Spark, the New Zealand telecoms firm that has wrested various top sports rights away from Sky, its pay-TV competitor, has announced that it has acquired more rights and content for Spark Sport, its subscription streaming service.
These include North American basketball’s NBA Channel, LFCTV, the channel of the top English soccer club Liverpool, and rights for the FIA World Rally Championship in New Zealand.
Six to seven NBA games will be shown each week, according to Jeff Latch, Spark’s head of sport, who said: “Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand – we’re confident this will encourage a whole new audience to jump onto Spark Sport. The 2018-19 season is under way and Spark Sport will launch in time for basketball fans to enjoy NBA games and programming.”
Sky, which also holds NBA rights, played down the challenge from Spark, with Tom Frankish, its sport content media manager, telling Stuff that Spark’s initiative “will not have an impact on our deal or coverage.”
He added: “To give you an example of NBA games live on Sky via ESPN in December we have 33 live games, in January we will broadcast 36 live games. We haven’t released the February schedules yet, but it won't impact our NBA coverage.”
Spark Sport plans to stream WRC events live, and also show comprehensive highlights. Latch said: “The inclusion of the FIA World Rally Championship in our motor sports line up cements Spark Sport as a destination for motor sports fans. The 2019 rallies will provide viewers with a range of exciting events in some amazing destinations.”
This year's World Rally Championship was shown in New Zealand by commercial broadcaster TV3 and public-service network TVNZ.
Spark is set to announce more details about Spark Sport, including pricing options, over the next few months.
Last month, Spark secured rights to all competitions of the FIH, field hockey’s governing body, previously shown on Sky, for the next four years.
Spark had already wrested away Formula 1 rights to 2021, and secured European rugby’s Heineken Champions Cup and next year’s Rugby World Cup, with coverage of both competitions to be shared with TVNZ, and English soccer’s Premier League, in a three-year deal starting in 2019-20.