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Sky NZ extends ICC deal, lined up for All Blacks, Super Rugby rights

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand has extended an exclusive agreement with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to continue delivering coverage of its events for the next four years.

The deal runs until the 2023 men’s World Cup in India and covers both men’s and women’s tournaments. Under the agreement, Sky will broadcast 24 matches from the men’s Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers, including both the semi-finals and the final.

The first major ICC event in the new agreement will be the women’s Twenty20 World Cup next February, which will be followed by the men’s equivalent in October. Both events will be held in Australia.

Meanwhile, Sky is reportedly set to sign a major new rights deal with New Zealand Rugby and Sanzaar, which operates the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship competitions. The Stuff.co.nz website, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that the deal would run for six years (from 2021 to 2026) and be worth NZ$400m (€230m/$253m).

The deal would grant Sky rights to matches featuring the All Blacks national team, as well as Rugby Championship and Super Rugby fixtures. Stuff added that New Zealand Rugby has informed Sky of its winning bid, although the deal has not yet been confirmed.

“It’s no secret we are in ongoing negotiations with NZ Rugby and Sanzaar and are keen to retain the rugby rights,” Sky’s director of sport and broadcasting Tex Teixeira said.

“However, we have nothing to report at this stage and are not able to comment on rumours. As a listed company, if and when we have something to announce we will share it with our investors, our customers and media.”

New Zealand Rugby’s chief commercial officer Richard Thomas said that no agreement has been reached with any party or parties at this stage.

Sky’s renewal of its deal with the ICC comes after telecoms operator Spark earlier this week landed a blow in its battle with the broadcaster by replacing it as New Zealand Cricket’s domestic rights-holder.

Under a six-year agreement commencing from April 2020, Spark Sport will be the official broadcaster for all matches played in New Zealand. Public-service broadcaster TVNZ has also come on board as the free-to-air broadcaster for a select number of Twenty20 international and Super Smash matches.

In August 2014, Sky signed a six-year extension to its agreement with NZC granting it rights to broadcaster New Zealand’s internal matches and domestic competitions until March 2020. The Spark-TVNZ announcement ended Sky’s 15-year hold on the rights and saw the broadcaster’s share price dip to a historic low.