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Spark strikes commercial premises pact with Sky for Rugby World Cup

New Zealand telco Spark has struck a deal with Sky to grant the latter’s commercial subscribers access to its coverage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but has said an agreement for the pay-television broadcaster’s home customers will not be forthcoming.

Spark and Sky today (Tuesday) said commercial premises that want to show the World Cup will be able to buy access to a Spark Sport pop-up channel on their Sky decoder. This is in addition to Spark Sport’s existing offer to commercial customers to stream World Cup matches from the Spark Sport app over their broadband connection.

The Spark Sport RWC pop-up channel through Sky will include all 48 matches live. The two parties said commercial customers will be able to access the pop-up channel for a one-off cost at “commercial rates”. They added that rates are confidential, but reflect the “quality and scale” of the event, which takes place in Japan from September 20 to November 2.

Under the terms of the partnership, Spark will cover the costs of Sky establishing the pop-up channel and will receive all related revenue from Sky commercial customers.

David Chalmers, executive lead for Spark Sport, said in a statement: “After testing in a wide range of commercial environments, we are confident in the Spark Sport streaming service that we are making available for commercial premises. But we also wanted to provide an alternative option for venues that would prefer to use their existing infrastructure, particularly for those locations without streaming-ready broadband connectivity.”

Spark acquired rights to the World Cup in April 2018, outbidding Sky to land the contract. Chalmers told the Stuff.co.nz website that the deal for Sky commercial premises will not be followed by a similar agreement for its home customers.

“The vast majority of New Zealanders can watch the tournament on Spark Sport,” Chalmers said. “We spent time considering the best way to mitigate for those customers whose broadband isn’t good enough and decided some months ago that the best course of action would be to extend our partnership with TVNZ.

“Our partnership ensures that every New Zealander can see the key matches free-to-air, including every All Blacks pool and knock-out match.”