Rural cricket fans angry as Spark Sport wins New Zealand Cricket broadcasting rights for six years

Spark Sport have won the rights to broadcast New Zealand cricket for six years, it was announced on Thursday in Auckland.

Sky Sport holds the rights for all domestic cricket until mid-way through next year, but when that deal ends in April 2020 Spark Sport will be the officials rights partner for all cricket matches played in New Zealand.

All Black Caps and White Ferns games, all men’s and women’s Super Smash games and the Ford Trophy one-day final will be streamed on the Spark platform.

James Gemmell has fronted the Spark Sport RWC coverage. Who will do the job for its cricket coverage?

TVNZ/Spark Sport

James Gemmell has fronted the Spark Sport RWC coverage. Who will do the job for its cricket coverage?

Cricket fans, especially those in rural areas, were disappointed with the news, with even fibre users pointing out what a drain a cricket match would be on their data use, and their finances.

“While I have the speed to download I don’t have the data available to do it as we are capped each month,” Wellingtonian Cheyne Moran said.

Kane Williamson and the Black Caps could be on Spark Sport in the near future.


Kane Williamson and the Black Caps could be on Spark Sport in the near future.

“One game of cricket would eat 25 per cent of my monthly data. Streaming sport for us is hopeless.”

Ray Henderson of Brookside on the Canterbury Plains said there was little prospect of fibre arriving for a decade, and he had to use dial-up internet. He was angry with the news.

“As a rural resident I have recently become a victim of Spark Sport and their inability to provide rugby to people living in the country,” he told Stuff.


“Not only do I love rugby but I also live and breathe cricket. Now that awful, awful organisation has obfuscated my right to sit and watch the game I love.


Streaming issues with Spark Sports delivery of the All Blacks' match against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.


Streaming issues with Spark Sports delivery of the All Blacks’ match against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.

“If they are going to live stream sport then that service should be available to all sports fans, not just those with good internet connections.


I don’t choose to live at the pub to see my rugby and cricket; but the wife is just going to have to get used to it.


“I can’t describe how much I loathe and detest Spark Sport … they are taking away television coverage of sport to thousands of people like myself that live in heartland New Zealand.”

Reece Grkovic of Okuku in North Canterbury predicted the end of sports watching for rural fans, with an on-going erosion of interest in sport for children.

“Is this the end of country folk in NZ being able to watch sport?,” he told Stuff.

“You wouldn’t even know the Rugby World Cup was on in our rural community without coverage available.

“Now it seems cricket is going the same way. That’s a shame as the kids don’t get to see and aspire to the professional levels of sports when the coverage is gone.”

The announcement had an immediate impact on Sky’s share price. When new boss Martin Stewart took over, he said the broadcaster needed to re-establish itself as the “home of sport”, so this is another blow to that strategy.

The share price has fallen almost 50 per cent over the past year, from $2.50 at the end of last year to $1.01 this morning.

Sky TV said it had been proud to be a partner of NZC since 1995, “bringing local cricket experiences to Kiwi fans”.  

“While we would have liked to retain the local NZ Cricket rights from next season, we will continue to offer some of the best cricket the world has to offer, including exciting international fixtures involving the Black Caps on tour.”

Sky highlighted its partnership with Cricket Australia, which would allow it to screen Black Caps tours in 2019/20 and 2020/21, and all international matches (men and women) played in Australia.

As well Sky’s relationship with BCCI (India) meant it had the rights to the Black Caps tours in 2021/22 and 2022/23, and the Indian Premier League.

The announcement comes amid a level of sports fan disquiet over how well Spark Sport has done streaming the Rugby World Cup, on in Japan at present.

NZC boss David White said the deal was as much about catering for the demands of tomorrow, as it was for today.

Spark uses the internet to stream games, removing the need for a TV.

“This is a deal which future-proofs the whole of cricket in New Zealand,” White said.

“Live streaming is the future. It allows viewers to free themselves from fixed linear schedules to watch live, delayed, highlighted or clipped content when and where they choose, and on a wide range of devices.

“Together with the free-to-air component provided by TVNZ, this accord means more cricket games than ever before will be broadcast live.

“It’s timely that we make this move now, at a time when more New Zealanders than ever – and especially young Kiwis, consume their sports content through digital devices.”

White paid tribute to Sky, which he described as a valued long-term partner.

“Sky has been a first-rate partner of NZC for many years and we’re grateful and appreciative of their support.

“We’re looking forward to working with them again on a world-class programme over the coming summer.”

In addition, TVNZ is partnering with NZC to provide live, free-to-air coverage on TVNZ 1 of the first T20 international of each men’s and women’s series, together with more than a third of the men’s and women’s Dream11 Super Smash competition on TVNZ 1 and DUKE channels.

The West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Australia will all visit New Zealand in the 2020-21 season, as will the India and England women’s teams.

Spark Sport and TVNZ have collaborated across the RWC, with Spark streaming the games lived, and TVNZ taking the All Black games on a one-hour delay.

TVNZ will show the RWC semifinals and final live.

Cricket NZ had chosen “a different path from 2020 and we wish them well”, Sky TV said.  

“The strength of the Sky offer is the depth and breadth of our sport across 12 HD channels carried on the satellite and across our various streaming services and our free to air channel Prime.”

We will continue to offer Sky customers the best range of sport in New Zealand in ways that work for all New Zealanders no matter where they live. “


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Publish date : 2019-10-09 23:11:00

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