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Sky NZ completes Lightbox acquisition

Fans during the NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers at Spark Arena on December 15, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand has completed its purchase of OTT entertainment platform Lightbox from telco Spark.

Sky plans to merge Lightbox with its own OTT service Neon. Both services focus on television series and films, rather than sport. Sky has a separate sports OTT service, Sky Sport Now.

The deal was first announced in December. It is the latest in a series of bold moves by Sky NZ as it seeks to reverse long-term decline in its business. Its share price has fallen below N$0.70 from around NZ$6 five years ago, on the back of declining subscriber numbers and profitability. Last year, the company wrote down its value by NZ$670m. Today it has a market capitalisation of just under NZ$300m.

The broadcaster has made a series of sports rights acquisitions to shore up its content library. Spark has in the last few years begun to challenge Sky’s dominance in sports broadcasting, most notably taking from it rights for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Sky struck an important blow in its battle with Spark last October when it renewed its New Zealand Rugby rights, the market’s most important sports property, for five years in a record deal.

In recent months, Sky has also added rights for US Masters golf, the domestic National Basketball League, ATP Cup tennis, LPGA golf, New Zealand Rugby League, European club and national team rugby union, the Commonwealth Games, and Netball New Zealand properties. It also announced its support of the launch of a streaming platform to showcase New Zealand grassroots sports.