Sky NZ hits back in retaining major ICC events to 2023
Sky New Zealand, the country's leading pay-television broadcaster, has extended its exclusive broadcast rights deal with the International Cricket Council to provide coverage of the sport's major events through to 2023.
The renewal was announced today just 24 hours after it was revealed that rights to New Zealand home series are set to pass to rival sports streaming service Spark Sport.
Sky's new deal takes in the Men's Cricket World Cup in India in 2023 and includes other men's and women's events, including Twenty20 World Cups, qualifying competitions and Men's Under-19 World Cups.
Sky will broadcast 24 matches from the 2020 Men's Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers, including both semi-finals and the final, which begin next week in the United Arab Emirates.
The first major ICC event will be the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup next February, followed by the men's equivalent, in October, both in Australia.
The Women’s Cricket World Cup will be held in New Zealand in 2021.
It emerged yesterday that Spark had displaced Sky as the home of international cricket in New Zealand from 2020 to 2026.
New Zealand’s home series against England, India and Australia in the 2019-20 season will be the last under the Sky deal.
Sky has been New Zealand Cricket's broadcaster of choice since 1995, and the loss of the rights sent its share price tumbling to NZ$0.88 yesterday, marking the first time in its 21 years as a listed company that it has been below NZ$1. The company’s share price at the end of 2018 was NZ$2.50. Sky is now valued at NZ$364.5 million.
However, it still holds a range of live cricket rights in New Zealand, including all Australia home international matches, New Zealand's tours of India in 2021-22 and 2022-23, and the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition, as well as the ICC events.
Martin Stewart, the chief executive of Sky, said today: "We're thrilled to be able to deliver four more years of top tier international cricket, including World Cup tournaments, to Kiwi sport fans and Sky customers. We've worked with ICC's global media rights holders, Star and the ICC for a number of years and we're looking forward to continuing to develop our relationship with them."
New Zealand reached the final of this year's Men's Cricket World Cup in England, only to lose in a dramatic match against the hosts.
After also losing out to Spark for rights to the Rugby World Cup, which is presently being played in Japan, Sky is targeting a bumper deal to retain the coveted rights to All Blacks matches outside the World Cup, as well as the Super Rugby competition involving provincial teams in the southern hemisphere, and did last week retain rights to the World Rugby Sevens Series until 2023.
Sky’s new management team, headed by Stewart, is believed to be placing significant importance on securing key rugby rights and is prepared to spend big to outbid its rivals, led by Spark.
The broadcaster outlined its commitment to rugby by recently acquiring RugbyPass, the global over-the-top digital media service that offers live coverage of top-level rugby, for $40 million.
Last month, it appointed Neil Martin as global chief executive of RugbyPass and he will be tasked with establishing RugbyPass’ European headquarters, to complement the existing offices in Dublin, Singapore and Auckland.