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Spark details launch plans for new sports platform

New Zealand telco Spark has said its new OTT sports platform will launch next month, priced at NZ$19.99 (€12/$14) per month after a free trial.

The “early March” launch of Spark Sport will tie in with the start of the 2019 Formula One season, one of Spark’s key rights acquisitions. The free one-month trial will allow New Zealanders to watch the first two grand prix of the motor racing championship’s new season.

Spark Sport’s F1 coverage will use the extended feed offered by Formula One’s UK partner, pay-television broadcaster Sky. However, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne will also be broadcast by public-service broadcaster TVNZ via its Duke service.

Spark said the service will initially launch in beta to allow the company to test the platform in real conditions. Jeff Latch, head of Spark Sport, said: “As we are launching in beta, we would welcome feedback from the first customers to jump onboard. We will continually be developing the platform and rolling out new functionality in the weeks and months after launch.”

Along with Formula One, Spark Sport’s initial line-up will include English Premier League and Uefa Champions League football, European club rugby union competition the Champions Cup, North American basketball league the NBA, the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH’s) new Pro League competition and the World Rally Championship.

In March, Spark Sport will be available via popular web browsers, Apple iPhone and iPad, Apple AirPlay, Android phones and tablets and Google Chromecast, with selected Samsung televisions following shortly. During the first six months following launch, the Spark Sport app will gradually become available on a range of content platforms including Apple TV, Panasonic, LG and Sony Smart televisions.

However, Spark’s prized rights acquisition, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, will be marketed outside the main subscription, with the company stating pricing and packaging details are set to be announced in April.

Latch added: “We are well on track with our planning for September and look forward to releasing more information about how Kiwis will watch the Rugby World Cup, as we expect many New Zealanders will want to sign up early.”

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