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Rivals Spark and Sky Team Up For Rugby World Cup

Telecom company Spark will pay competitor Sky Television to set up a new pop-up channel specifically for the Rugby World Cup, but said it was not an admission it could not deliver over its own streaming channel.

Spark wants a 36 hour delay should the Commerce Commission approve the merger between Sky Television and Vodafone.

The deal will allow Sky customers and commercial premises, such as bars and restaurants, to watch all 48 Rugby World Cup matches through an existing Sky decoder, rather than buying a Spark Sport subscription, which relies on an internet connection.

Spark will retain all revenue generated by the channel.

Spark Sport executive lead David Chalmers said the deal did not suggest it had admitted defeat.

“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,” he said.

Spark refused to say if it contacted Sky to initiate the deal, or vice versa, or when negotiations between the companies began.

The two companies have been battling for sports content since Spark outbid Sky to the Rugby World Cup broadcast rights and has set up a new streaming platform to screen it.

Since then it has also acquired a range of other sports including English premier league football, hockey, and motorsport.

Last week Sky announced its own sport streaming app to be launched next month, with chief executive Martin Stewart saying if anyone tried to outbid it for sports broadcast rights again, it would send them broke.

Sky strategic partnership lead Sophie Moloney said it was pleased with the Spark partnership.

“We are pleased to be able to work together with Spark to deliver this alternative access option for our commercial customers, including those in rural areas who do not yet have access to fast enough broadband.”

Source: rnz.co.nz Republished by arrangement.

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