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Spark acquires Premier League rights; names new exec for sports platform

Tuesday 14th August 2018

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Spark New Zealand has secured exclusive rights to Premier League football in the UK as it builds out a suite of content for the live-streaming sports service it plans to roll out early next year.

Spark has secured the football rights for three seasons from August 2019 through to May 2022. It has also gained exclusive rights to content from Manchester United TV from later this year.

The new content builds on agreements for rugby content the firm announced in April when it first detailed its plans for a subscription-based streaming service on a dedicated sport platform. The earlier deals include the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Chief executive Simon Moutter says the firm is being disciplined in the content it acquires and wants to be sure it can commercialise any package of rights.

While there will be broader brand benefits from the firm’s association with high-profile sports coverage, the new service must be viable in its own right.

“We’re keen to secure sports rights that can stand on their own two feet,” he said in a statement to the NZX.  “This is not about using sports content simply as an acquisition or retention tool for our broadband or mobile base.”

Spark, New Zealand’s biggest telecommunications provider, has yet to say what the new service will cost.

It will be offered on a different platform to the one the firm uses for its existing Lightbox service. Moutter wouldn’t name its partner but said they are a specialist platform provider with extensive experience in live sports.

Moutter also announced that Jeff Latch, previously director of content at state-owned TVNZ, will run Spark Sport. In that role he will lead the acquisition of content rights and the delivery of the new platform.

Prior to joining TVNZ a decade ago, Latch ran an independent sports production company.

Spark shares last traded at $3.825 and have are up 5.8 percent so far this year. 


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