Sky signs new NRL deal, rebuffing Spark Sport interest in league

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Jun 2021, 9:54AM
(Photo / Photosport)
(Photo / Photosport)

Sky signs new NRL deal, rebuffing Spark Sport interest in league

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Jun 2021, 9:54AM

Sky TV says it has signed a new NRL deal covering games through to the end of 2027.

The deal covers NRL, State of Origin and all the NZRL-run matches involving the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns rugby league teams.

"We commit to making some important matches available free-to-access," Sky said in a statement. Which? "We're working through those details. The likes of the Anzac test sound just about right, chief executive Sophie Moloney told the Herald.

Terms were not disclosed, but the Herald understands Sky had to fend off an attempt at an NRL rights-grab by Spark Sport.

On June 17, Spark Sport said it had won what it called a "competitive tender" for rights to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup (and Moloney confirmed today that Sky did bid for the event) fuelling speculation it would target the NRL next.

After gaining the cricket rights, Spark Sport said it was seeking a major winter sport as an anchor for its platform.

"We would very much like to carry a tier-one winter sport going forward," Spark Sport boss Jeff Latch told the Herald in April.

According to Nielsen, some 1.1 million New Zealanders have tuned in to at least one NRL game this year.

League was the last of the big four sports up for grabs as Spark Sport tussled with Sky.

Sky secured rugby and netball, and now league, while the pair have split cricket rights.

Moloney told the Herald that under Sky's new league deal, "There are two agreements: one with NZRL and one with the NRL. Both partnership agreements extend through to 2027, enabling all parties to develop exciting long-term programmes to grow and develop rugby league."

"We are changing the nature of our relationship from a rights deal to a true partnership. Our joint initiatives will start before our current rights expire, hence the early renewal.

"A priority is the strengthening of the women's game and for tamariki and rangatahi throughout Aotearoa."

Sky shares were recently trading at 16.9c. The stock is up 8 per cent for the year.