Sky set to snag ABs, Super Rugby rights until 2025

The All Blacks are keeping watch on an oncoming typhoon. Photo: Getty Images
The deal apparently includes All Blacks tests, Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup matches. Photo: Getty Images

Sky TV is set to win the rights for all All Blacks, Rugby Championship and Super Rugby matches until 2025 in a reportedly $400 million deal.

Sources say New Zealand Rugby has advised Sky of the winning bid - but Sky said it could not comment today.

"It's no secret we are in ongoing negotiations with NZ Rugby and Sanzaar and are keen to retain the rugby rights. However, we have nothing to report at this stage and are not able to comment on rumours. As a listed company, if and when we have something to announce we will share it with our investors, our customers and media," said director of sport Tex Teixeira.

Winning the rights would be a huge boost for Sky, whose share price has fallen by more than 20 per cent following news that Spark has won rights to domestic cricket, including Black Caps' matches in New Zealand.

Spark also has the rights to Rugby World Cup 2019.

In early September, Sky was said to have put a $400 million offer on the table to NZ Rugby and Sanzaar for the next five-year cycle, once its current rights deal ends in 2020.

The deal includes All Blacks tests, Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup matches.

The Sanzaar rights deal serves as a massive boost for the struggling Sky TV whose shares this week plunged below $1 for the first time in its 21 years as a listed company.

Sky TV's share price dropped by 18c (16.22 per cent) to as low as 87c - a new record low - on the NZX this morning. The pay TV operator had held the cricket rights since 1995.

Pay-TV broadcaster Sky has never specified what it paid for its current five-year contract with Sanzaar, which runs from 2016 through to the end of the 2020 season.

But an insider says it runs to $70m per year (close to Forsyth Barr's recent estimate of $65m), or $350m in total.

This week Sky competitor Spark secured broadcast rights to New Zealand Cricket.

The rights period is for six years and includes all international and selected domestic cricket matches played in New Zealand under the umbrella of NZC, Spark has revealed.

Earlier today, Paul McBeth of BusinessDesk reported:

The pay-TV operator will ask shareholders next week for permission to pursue the SANZAAR rugby broadcasting rights - that end late next year - which will exceed more than half its market capitalisation.
Sky canned its dividend payments this year to help build a war chest to outbid increasingly competitive rivals for premium sports rights. The new management team - headed by Stewart - see rugby as a lynchpin in preserving its future, and this year bought online rugby platform RugbyPass for up to US$40 million in cash and shares.

Morningstar Research analyst Brian Han said in a note that yesterday's loss of the domestic cricket rights highlighted Spark's aggression in pursuing premium sports broadcasting rights.

"As we have noted previously, maintaining compelling content is critical for Sky's transition, and ... makes the upcoming SANZAAR rugby rights imperative for Sky to retain," he said.

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