Can Sky do better? New battle over Cup TV rights

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As All Blacks fans log into the brave new world of Spark’s streaming World Cup broadcast tonight, the Weekend Herald understands Sky is already preparing its bid for the next one.

Spark’s test run last night — streaming the opening ceremony and first game at Tokyo Stadium — divided opinion. While several Kiwi fans were impressed with the service, some took to social media to lambast the company’s performance.

Complaints ranged from freezing, lagging and glitching during the glitzy ceremony to differences in streaming quality across Aotearoa and significant delays.

Even more eyes will be on the service tonight for the All Blacks’ opening match, against South Africa and a well-placed source has revealed the company already has a big competitor for securing broadcast rights to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The Weekend Herald believes Sky and Spark may have already made initial approaches to World Rugby directly, or their sports marketing representative, IMG Media, about the 2023 event.

When questioned about these claims, Sky director of external affairs Chris Major would neither confirm nor deny if a 2023 broadcast bid had begun in some form.

“We don’t normally comment on rights negotiations, but for this one, I can say that of course, we will be discussing Rugby World Cup 2023 when the time is right,” Major said.

Spark and TVNZ won the rights to this year’s event in April, 2018.

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