Sky TV has confirmed rumours it is angling to seize the Rugby World Cup back from Spark Sport.
"We are in advanced discussions with World Rugby to negotiate a wide-ranging rights deal that would secure World Rugby's premium competitions - including Rugby World Cups - for our customers over multiple years," Sky chief corporate affairs officer Chris Major told the Herald.
"The discussions include potential changes for RugbyPass, which would support World Rugby's strategy to engage fans and grow the global game.
"It would be inappropriate to comment on the details until the terms of a binding agreement are finalised."
On May 25, the Herald's Gregor Paul broke the news that Sky was working with TVNZ to mount a bid for the 2023 Mens' Rugby World Cup, as Spark Sport realigned with Discovery - with whom it will partner for the Womens' Rugby World Cup later this year.
Sky bought RugbyPass - a global service that streamed top-tier rugby to ex-pat fans in territories outside the main rugby-playing countries - for US$40 million in 2019 but later wrote off almost all of the value and turned it into a news-only site after Covid decimated fixtures.
US venture capital firm Silverlake's buy-in to NZ Rugby came with plans to use new media to raise the All Blacks' profile and brand value worldwide. A reanimated RugbyPass could be a vehicle.
In February, Sky announced it had taken back English Premier League rights from Spark Sport with a six-season deal starting next month.
Jarden research head Arie Dekker told the Herald it was time for Spark to follow BT in the UK and exit sports streaming, which he sees as high-risk compared to the telco's core business - where he sees it performing well.
Sky shares were up 1.3 per cent to $2.32 yesterday. The stock is up 35 per cent for the year.