Spark Sport locks in rights to English cricket

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Jul 2020, 8:51PM
NZ-born Ben Stokes will captain England during the first match tonight. (Photo / File)

Spark Sport locks in rights to English cricket

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Jul 2020, 8:51PM

Spark Sport's grabbed the rights to English cricket for the next four years.

The online streamer has confirmed it has signed a deal with the ECB, giving it the rights to international and domestic cricket played in England.

The contract starts tonight with the first test match in the Covid-19 era getting underway when England and the West Indies square off in Southampton.

The deal takes in a Black Caps tour in 2022.

It comes a day after Spark Sport says it has appointed UK company Whisper as its production partner for its domestic cricket contract, which covers the next six seasons.

It's the second time Spark Sport has drafted in an offshore producer after multinational outside broadcast giant NEP was appointed for its domestic hockey coverage.

Sky TV's outside broadcast unit was for a long time the only substantial OB operation in New Zealand, and the cost of replicating it was regarded as a barrier to new competition.

However, NEP setting up shop in NZ, lower-cost digital technologies and a cost-pressure saw Sky put its OB unit up for sale last year.

Whisper MD Mark Cole says, "We have recently appointed former England Cricket captain Michael Vaughan as an advisory board member so he will also have a supporting role on this project.

"We also intend to work extensively with local production talent, as we have in the West Indies and elsewhere, and to draw upon and benefit from their vast experience and local knowledge.

"We're looking forward to working with the White Ferns and Black Caps players and showcasing the exciting talent on display with a fresh, new take on sports entertainment."

Whisper was founded in 2010 by ex-Formula One driver David Coulthard, Jake Humphrey - "the face of football for BT Sport" and Bafta award-winning producer Sunil Patel.

The company currently produces the BBC's highlights coverage of English cricket, all international Cricket fixtures played in the West Indies, extensive Formula One highlights plus one live race for Channel 4, NFL for the BBC, Women's Super League and Women's Rugby Six Nations.