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Sky NZ considers sale of sports production subsidiary to NEP

Edward Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster of New Zealand compete in the Men's Team Sprint Finals during the 2018 Commonwealth Games (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand is considering selling Outside Broadcasting (OSB), its sports production subsidiary, to international outdoor broadcasting specialist NEP, it has emerged.

Brian Hitchcock, head of sport for Sky New Zealand, has informed staff in a leaked memo that Outside Broadcasting workers have been made aware of the proposal to sell the company to NEP, according to the Stuff.co.nz website.

NEP moved into the New Zealand market last year by taking over production company NZ Live.

The takeover proposal is said to be “sensitive and confidential”, with no final decision having been made on the sale.

Sky told Stuff: “Producing and delivering excellent sport up and down New Zealand, from grassroots to high performance, is what we do at Sky Sport. The question being asked is whether Sky needs to use its own capital to deliver the outside broadcast aspects.”

Sky acquired OSB from Australia-based Prime Media Group in a NZ$35m (€20.5m/$22.5m) deal back in 2010. After liabilities, the net amount was NZ$13.5m.

Following NEP’s entry into New Zealand last year, the president of the company’s Australia division, Soames Treffry, said it would be willing to support the sports production operations of public-service broadcaster TVNZ and telco Spark, as well as film events for Sky if the broadcaster was looking to outsource work.

Earlier this week, Sky New Zealand announced rights deals with top-tier French rugby union league the Top 14, along with the Irish and Welsh Rugby Unions. The three-season Top 14 deal runs from 2019-20 to 2021-22, the Irish Rugby Union agreement runs until 2022 and the Welsh Rugby Union deal runs until 2024. The broadcaster also sublicensed free-to-air rights to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to TVNZ.

Earlier in the month, Sky agreed a deal for the 2022 and 2026 editions of the Commonwealth Games. Other recent rights deals have been struck with New Zealand Rugby, the International Cricket Council and Netball NZ.