Whisper lands production contract for Spark's cricket coverage
Whisper, the UK-based production firm, has strengthened its cricket portfolio after landing a contract with Spark Sport to produce the New Zealand sports streaming service’s coverage in the country.
After Sky New Zealand spent two decades as the dominant rights-holder for cricket, Spark last year beat the pay-television giant to broadcast rights to all domestic and international cricket played in the country for the next six years in an agreement which came into effect in April.
Spark has appointed Whisper as its production partner for all matches and will mark the UK company’s first contract in New Zealand.
Jeff Latch, head of Spark Sport, said: “As host rights-holder, we want to appeal to the current sports watcher but also need to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of young, diverse New Zealand cricket fans and Whisper showcased their ability to connect with a global audience by producing content that resonates widely.”
Latch also explained that despite opting for an overseas partner, the platform will still look to work with New Zealand-based freelance production professionals.
He added: “Whisper will bring some top global talent in cricket production including a director who has been instrumental in producing sport across the Tasman for Channel 9 and the producer who put together the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup final.
“However, the majority of our cricket production team will be sourced from New Zealand’s experienced freelance production workforce.”
Whisper, co-founded by chief executive Sunil Patel, BT Sport broadcaster Jake Humphry and former Formula 1 driver and commentator David Coulthard, has a portfolio which also includes rugby union’s Women’s Six Nations, English soccer’s Women’s Super League, sailing's SailGP, motor racing’s Formula 1 and W Series and American football’s NFL.
David White, chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said: “Spark is proving it has an appetite for reimagining what the future of cricket in New Zealand looks like.
“Our teams are eager to create something new so having some of the top global production talent in the mix is getting them excited.”
The deal represents another major cricket contract in quick succession for Whisper after yesterday announcing it will produce highlights packages for UK public-service broadcaster the BBC and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Since officially acquiring its major cricket rights in April, Spark has been unable to show any live action due to the sport being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The streaming service is believed to be in discussions with the ECB to acquire rights to the test series between England and the West Indies, which gets under way tomorrow.