ESPN+ renews NZC rights in six-year deal in time for WIndies tour
By Jonathan Rest
ESPN, the international sports broadcasting giant, has struck a new exclusive six-year media rights deal in USA with New Zealand Cricket for rights to all international cricket played in the country, Sportcal can reveal.
The agreement covers more than 100 men's and women's Test, One Day International and Twenty20 International matches played in New Zealand until the end of the 2025-26 season, with the action to air on the ESPN+ streaming service, which costs $5.99 per month and counts some 10.3 million subscribers.
ESPN already held NZC rights in USA in a previous six-year deal, but the new contract also comprises 50 matches per season from Super Smash, New Zealand’s domestic T20 league.
The first game of the new deal takes place tomorrow, when New Zealand host the West Indies in Auckland in the first of three T20Is. The game begins at 1am ET.
New Zealand and West Indies will play a two Test match series next month, with other tours scheduled for New Zealand during the 2020-21 season including Pakistan, Bangladesh and rival Australia.
Russell Wolff, executive vice-president and general manager of ESPN+, said: “Cricket fans are among the most passionate in the world, and the Black Caps [men's national team] and White Ferns [women's national team] are among the world’s great teams. We’re thrilled to build on our great relationship with New Zealand Cricket and bring even more top-level global cricket to the growing and dedicated audience on ESPN+.”
NZC chief executive David White added: “The partnership with ESPN will help us extend our teams’ global reach and build closer relationships around the world – which is one of our key objectives. The USA has always been an important market for us and we’re looking forward to continuing to bring top-class cricket to ESPN viewers.”
It is the second rights deal struck in as many weeks by NZC, following a surprise five-year agreement in India with Amazon, the online retail giant, which begins with the 2021-22 season.
NZC put the rights for India on the open market after it was unable to agree a renewal with the country’s leading cricket broadcaster Star India, which has shown matches for the last three years in a deal reported to be worth around $30 million.
Sports streaming service Spark now holds domestic rights to cricket in New Zealand in a six-year deal that came into effect in April of this year, and brought an end to NZC’s long relationship with pay-television operator Sky.