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Commonwealth Games return to Sky NZ rights portfolio

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand has furthered its recent rights acquisition drive by agreeing a deal for the 2022 and 2026 editions of multi-sport event the Commonwealth Games.

The agreement means that the Games return to Sky after public-service broadcaster TVNZ held rights to last year’s event in Gold Coast, Australia. Sky broadcast the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games from Delhi and Glasgow, respectively.

The deal with the Commonwealth Games Federation adds to Sky’s coverage of the Olympic Games, for which it holds rights through the 2024 edition. The agreement is for rights across New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and means that Sky has exclusive Commonwealth Games rights to transmit live, delayed, catch-up and on demand coverage, including highlights and clips.

As rights-holding broadcaster, Sky will deliver all Birmingham 2022 events live on multiple Sky Sport channels, streamed on Sky Go and Sky Sport Now. A key part of the deal is Sky’s ongoing commitment to ensure free-to-air coverage of major international events.

Martin Stewart, chief executive at Sky, said: “There will be a significant number of hours of live and curated coverage on [free-to-air channel] Prime every day of the Commonwealth Games, including the special action involving New Zealand athletes. This commitment is consistent with Sky’s delivery of free-to-air coverage for previous international events.

“2.5 million New Zealanders watched our free coverage of the Rio Olympics in 2016, and 2.4 million watched our free coverage of Rugby World Cup 2015.  Our promise on Birmingham 2022, as it is on our other major sporting events, is that we will deliver outstanding sport experiences for all New Zealanders…

“…we will have daily Commonwealth Games studio shows on Sky and free-to-air on Prime, and Sky Sport News will also report on all of the key action. Digital will play a key role with coverage across Sky digital platforms well before the Games commence, and through multiple live streams and on-demand content throughout the Games.”

The 2022 Games in the English city of Birmingham will be the first Commonwealth Games to have more women’s medal events than men’s. A host venue for the 2026 Games is yet to be assigned.

Stewart added: “Under the partnership between Sky and NZOC (New Zealand Olympic Committee), we have committed to working together to increase women’s participation and visibility across key aspects of the Games, including our reporting of women’s events on Sky Sport News and the highlights shows, the number of female presenters and women on the Sky production crew.”

Today’s (Monday’s) Commonwealth Games deal marks the latest rights announcement from Sky. Over the past month, the broadcaster has sealed agreements with New Zealand Rugby, the International Cricket Council and Netball NZ.

TVNZ has broadcast coverage of all but two editions of the Games and served as the host broadcaster for the event when it was staged in New Zealand in Christchurch in 1974 and in Auckland in 1990.

It recently emerged that the host broadcast for the 2022, 2026 and 2030 Commonwealth Games could be provided by the same company, following a recent invitation to tender issued by Birmingham 2022 and CGF Partnerships, the commercial vehicle set up by the Commonwealth Games Federation and Lagardère Sports.

As reported by SportBusiness, the host broadcast contract on offer not only includes Birmingham’s games, but also an option to extend the agreement to the 2026 and 2030 editions. Upon the start of the process to find a host broadcast company, the estimated value of the contract was set at £81m (€92.6m/$102.2m) excluding VAT. The contract is expected to be awarded in April 2020.

An award of the host broadcast duties for all three games is not certain, however, as Birmingham 2022 and CGF Partnerships will award a contract for the 2022 event only if there is “insufficient economic benefit” in awarding a wider agreement.