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TV New Zealand and Spark may consider joint rugby rights bid

Telecommunications company Spark and state owned broadcaster TVNZ are considering a joint bid for rights to New Zealand Rugby fixtures from 2020, according to local reports.

The consortium could initially bid for the 2019 Rugby World Cup rights, before potentially expanding into a longer-term commitment to rugby when the national team’s broadcast rights are up for renewal.

Sky Television currently holds the broadcast rights to all New Zealand and SANZAAR-based competitions, from which New Zealand Rugby is estimated to earn between NZ$60 – $70 million a year.

Amazon is also thought to be interested in entering the scrum to acquire rights for its Prime Video streaming service. The US online giant is currently preparing to globally stream an Amazon Original Series featuring the All Blacks after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) granted it unprecedented access to follow New Zealand’s national team during 2017. The series, slated for the first half of 2018, will look inside the world of the players, coaches and support team on and off the field.

Meanwhile, SANZAAR’s formal bidding process for rights to screen provincial, Super and test match rugby from 2021 is expected to begin by April 2018. The process is thought to allow extra time for new overseas players such as Amazon to address infrastructural issues such as broadband speeds.