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Sky continues sports drive with extension to netball rights

Tuesday 22nd October 2019

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Sky Network Television continued its drive to keep a grip on domestic sports, signing up Netball New Zealand's broadcasting rights for another three years. 

The pay-TV operator's existing rights have been extended to 2024, covering all Silver Ferns matches and the country's top tier domestic competitions. As part of the deal, Sky will work with the sporting body to grow the game, and it signalled details of the grassroots initiatives will be announced soon. 

No price was disclosed, although Netball NZ's annual report showed sponsorship income of $10.2 million and $3.1 million from grants in the November 2018 financial year. 

"Netball NZ is a longstanding partner and we are delighted to have agreed this extension of the agreement," chief executive Martin Stewart said in a statement. 

"As the home of netball, and in line with our commitment to deliver more women’s sport, we’re really pleased to be working with Netball NZ to deliver more exciting netball to New Zealanders."

Sky has been mounting a stiff fightback to retain premium sports broadcasting rights after Spark New Zealand entered the market and nabbed the Rugby World and domestic cricket rights for its online streaming service. 

Sky built a war chest to bid for those rights but was still outbid by Spark for the domestic cricket rights. Sky has taken a novel approach to keeping what it sees as key broadcasting rights, including issuing a 5 percent stake to New Zealand Rugby as part of the deal to win over the national sports body. 

Jennie Wylie, Netball NZ chief executive, said the multi-year deal provided financial certainty for the sporting body. It delivered an operating surplus of $297,000 in the 12 months ended Nov. 30, 2018, turning around a deficit of $337,000 a year earlier. Of its $18.8 million of annual income, $2.5 million came from Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport NZ. 

Sky shares were unchanged at $1.08 when trading opened, and have slumped 41.6 percent so far this year. 


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