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Sky sublicenses Tokyo 2020 rights to TVNZ, adds more rugby

Tokyo 2020 medal hopeful Eliza McCartney celebrates her silver medal in the women's pole vault at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Sky New Zealand has struck a sublicensing deal with public-service broadcaster TVNZ for free-to-air coverage of the 2020 summer Olympic Games, while the pay-television broadcaster has agreed multiple deals for European rugby union content.

Under the Olympics agreement, the TVNZ 1 channel will offer 12 hours of free-to-air coverage throughout each afternoon and evening. TVNZ’s coverage will include many of the key events featuring New Zealand athletes, while live streaming will also be provided on TVNZ OnDemand.

Sky will stream and broadcast all Tokyo 2020 action across its 12 high-definition channels and its streaming platforms.

In March 2016, Sky extended its rights deal in New Zealand and the Pacific region for the Olympic Games to run from 2018 to 2024 on all media platforms. This contract includes a commitment of at least 200 hours of Olympic Games and 100 hours of Olympic winter Games on free-to-air television.

The Beijing 2008 games were the last Summer Olympics that TVNZ held live rights to.

The on-sale of free-to-air rights to TVNZ represents a change in approach from Sky compared to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when the pay-TV broadcaster utilised its Prime channel to showcase free-to-air coverage.

There is a rights fee element to TVNZ’s deal with Sky for Tokyo 2020 rights, with a Sky insider telling the New Zealand Herald: “The value of this deal is in two parts – the rights fee that TVNZ is paying us to become free-to-air partner, and being able to draw on the promotional power of our collective platforms.”

Commenting on the deal, Sky chief executive Martin Stewart said: “2.8 million New Zealanders engaged with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Sky and Prime. Our shared goal with TVNZ is to increase that viewership even further, and surround New Zealand with Tokyo 2020.”

European rugby rights 

Elsewhere, Sky has 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.

Extending Sky’s commitment to the Top 14, the new deal sees broadcast coverage increase to four matches per round of the regular season with five final phase matches available to Sky Sport subscribers. A weekly highlights programme for each regular season round will also screen each week.

The three-year deal with the Irish Rugby Union runs until 2022 and includes 11 international test matches. A five-year contract with the Welsh Rugby Union includes 19 international test matches from 2019 to 2024.

The Top 14 deal adds to Sky’s coverage of European club rugby, with the broadcaster also a broadcaster rights-holder to the Pro14 and English Premiership.