Telecoms company Spark New Zealand has announced that it is to shutter its Spark Sport streaming service.
In an announcement today (December 26), Spark said that, from July 1 next year, the TVNZ public service broadcaster will take on the majority of Spark Sport’s rights and sports content, including all home New Zealand international cricket until the end of 2025-26.
Spark has cited “escalating content rights costs and a broader range of investment opportunities across the business” as key factors behind this decision.
It added that the iStream Planet platform it licenses to run Spark Sport will “no longer be made available for third-party use” from the second half of 2023, meaning that it would have had to source a new platform and transition customers to it.
Spark has said it is in the process of discussing its various agreement rightsholders and will confirm the final details of coverage on TVNZ in the new year.
Major upcoming sports rights held by Spark include European national team soccer’s Euro 2024 and Euro 2028, as well as tennis’ US Open grand slam until 2024.
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It has been announced today that Sky New Zealand will become the home of the Formula 1 motor racing series from 2023, taking over the rights from Spark.
Jolie Hodson, chief executive at Spark, said: “Since entering the sports streaming market in 2019, we have delivered a wide range of high-quality sporting content to our customers across Aotearoa [New Zealand], alongside our valued partners.
“At the same time, it has been challenging to reach the scale we aspired to across the Spark Sport platform, with Covid causing major disruption to sport codes globally just a year after launch. That slower-than-expected start, coupled with the escalating costs of content rights globally, makes it difficult to justify the type of investment Spark Sport requires when we have a wider range of investment opportunities across our broader business.
“We have been working with TVNZ as our free-to-air partner on cricket since we won the rights, and this new partnership will deliver New Zealanders the largest volume of top-tier free-to-air sports content in the last 20 years while allowing us to share costs as we exit the sports streaming market.
““No new venture is without risk, and we recognize that this news will be disappointing for our valued customers and partners, and dedicated Spark Sport team.”