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Spark, TVNZ linked with joint bid for New Zealand rugby rights

New Zealand public-service broadcaster TVNZ and telecommunications company Spark have been linked with a possible joint bid for the domestic rights to games organised by New Zealand Rugby, the governing body of rugby union in the country.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand currently has a five-year deal, from 2016 to 2020, with New Zealand Rugby, covering games in the country and under the Sanzaar umbrella in the southern hemisphere.

However, the New Zealand Herald newspaper has reported that TVNZ and Spark could join forces to challenge Sky New Zealand for the rights to broadcast provincial and Super Rugby club competitions.

Sanzaar will launch a formal bidding process for the rights by April of next year. New Zealand Rugby represents one quarter of the Sanzaar unions, alongside South Africa, Australia and Argentina.

The Herald understands that talks are ongoing between TVNZ and Spark, but it is not yet clear how much of the annual provincial, Super and Test match calendar would feature in a possible bid.

Sources told the newspaper that it is “no secret” a joint bid is part of a long-term agenda.

In September, the Herald also reported that internet company Amazon is likely to bid for domestic rights to matches. The newspaper said Amazon had already held talks with New Zealand Rugby and could progress with a bid.