In a move that New Zealand Rugby chairman, Brent Impey, suggests could be a world-first, New Zealand Rugby has taken a 5 per cent stake in Sky TV as part of a newly agreed five-year rights deal.
It is understood the broadcast rights include exclusive coverage of all Investec Rugby Championship, Steinlager Series, Investec Super Rugby, Mitre 10 Cup and all New Zealand’s other domestic competitions, including women’s competitions like the Farah Palmer Cup.
Neither Brent Impey, or Sky chief executive, Martin Stewart, would comment on the value of the deal, but some sources estimate it to be worth as much as $400 million.
Impey did, however, acknowledge that this was possibly the first time in the world that a sport has become a shareholder in the broadcaster.
“We’ve broken new ground here,” he said.
Sky TV shares have shot up 20 per cent after confirming its blockbuster deal for All Blacks and Super Rugby broadcasting rights.
Sky’s share price had taken a battering with Spark Sport’s recent successful bids to broadcast the Rugby World Cup and New Zealand Cricket matches, falling 21 per cent last week.
Sky chief executive, Martin Stewart, said the rugby matches would be played on Sky’s pay-TV service, its online streaming platforms and free-to-air on the channel Prime.
“Rugby is a core and significant part of our offer as the home of sport,” he said.
“We know it attracts customers to Sky, who then also discover and enjoy the deep range of local and global sport that we offer.”
Shareholders will be asked to approve the deal at Sky’s annual shareholder meeting in Auckland on Thursday.