ZB

Spark Sport extends key football deal

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 May 2022, 9:11am
England captain Harry Kane (right) and Italy's Nicolo Barella challenge for the ball during the Euro 2020 final. (Photo / AP)
England captain Harry Kane (right) and Italy's Nicolo Barella challenge for the ball during the Euro 2020 final. (Photo / AP)

Spark Sport extends key football deal

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 May 2022, 9:11am

Spark Sport says it has extended its contract with UEFA to include the Euro 2024 and 2028 international football competitions.

The deal is notable on three levels.

One, it counters the narrative, pushed by some analysts, that Spark's earlier loss of English Premier League rights to Sky was a sign the telco intended to pull back from sport.

Two, it means football fans will have to continue to spread their loyalty (and money) across Spark and Sky (Spark Sport increased its price from $19.99 to $24.99 last year as the service bagged domestic cricket rights. Sky increased its Sky Sport pricing by $3 to $34.99 from this month's billing cycle. Its Sky Sport Now streaming service remains at $19.99 for a week pass, $39.99 for a month pass or $399.99 per year).

And three, its long-term nature hints that ambitions are limited for the global streaming service recently launched by UEFA's parent FIFA (which some saw as a stepping-stone to a worldwide direct-to-consumer play for top-tier games).

As well as seizing back the EPL from Spark (for six seasons from August), Sky recently renewed its agreement with the A-League and the Wellington Phoenix. The pay-TV broadcaster also holds rights to the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, plus the FIFA World Cup.

But Spark retains UEFA's Champions League, Europa and Conference League competitions under a three-year deal that runs through to 2024, plus the aforementioned Euros and Manchester United TV (MUTV), Liverpool TV and the FA Women's Super League.

The Euro 2020 tournament, played in July 2021 after Covid delays, saw an epic final at Wembley between England and Italy, decided in a penalty shoot-out that caused an internet meltdown as several young English players missed their chances which meant the Azzurri were victorious.

UEFA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said: "We are thrilled to welcome Spark Sport as a new partner in New Zealand for the next two editions of the UEFA European Football Championship [popularly known as the Euros], which are due to be held in 2024 and 2028. We look forward to the extensive and excellent coverage on Spark Sport for the fans to follow every moment throughout the tournament across the country."

Spark Sport head Jeff Latch said": "It's no secret the UEFA European Championship is one of the biggest football competitions in the world so adding the 2024 and 2028 editions to Spark Sport's existing football line-up is great news for our subscribers.