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Sky fightback sees it keep Cricket World Cup rights

Sky Network Television bounced back from yesterday's loss of the domestic cricket broadcasting rights with a deal that will see it keep world cup coverage for the next four years.

The pay-TV operator retained its exclusive broadcasting deal with the International Cricket Council until the 2023 men's world cup in India, covering Twenty20 tournaments and qualifiers until then. That's on top of its recent six-year deal with Cricket Australia for broadcasting rights across the Tasman and an existing relationship with India's Board of Control for Cricket in India.

"We’re thrilled to be able to deliver four more years of top tier international cricket, including World Cup tournaments, to Kiwi sport fans and Sky customers," chief executive Martin Stewart said in a statement.

"We’ve worked with ICC’s global media rights holders, Star and the ICC for a number of years and we’re looking forward to continuing to develop our relationship with them."

The rights deal is a win for Sky just a day after losing the broadcasting rights for New Zealand Cricket to Spark New Zealand, which saw more than a fifth wiped from Sky's market value. The stock closed at a record-low 88 cents yesterday, valuing Sky at $364.5 million.

The pay-TV operator will ask shareholders next week for permission to pursue the SANZAAR rugby broadcasting rights - which 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 this latest blow now makes the upcoming SANZAAR rugby rights imperative for Sky to retain," he said.


ends

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