Spark has secured the exclusive rights to broadcast the Heineken Champions Cup in New Zealand for four years from this season through to 2021/22.
Spark’s partner, TVNZ, will show two Heineken Champions Cup games a week free-to-air via TVNZ Duke on Saturday and Sunday mornings, from October 13 up until Spark’s sport platform launches (it is scheduled for early 2019).
From the launch of Spark’s platform, it will make all Heineken Champions Cup matches available live and on-demand via its sports streaming app – which will be available on a range of devices, including smart TVs. TVNZ will continue to show one game a week free-to-air on TVNZ Duke until the conclusion of the competition.
Spark Head of Sport Jeff Latch said: “This competition is widely recognised as the ‘one to win’ amongst European club rugby players, so the quality of play is impressive. And of course, as with any rugby competition across the world, the club teams will include a healthy sprinkling of Kiwis who have taken their talents to Europe – which gives it an added interest for New Zealand fans.”
Former All-Blacks fly-half Dan Carter was part of the Racing 92 squad who have made two of the last three finals of what is now the Heineken Champions Cup, while Jamison Gibson-Park, of Leinster Rugby, became the 14th New Zealander to win the competition in Bilbao last May.
Other Kiwis in this season’s competition include Montpellier’s Aaron Cruden, who was an All Black for seven years before swapping the Chiefs for France, while Lima Sopoaga is set to make his Heineken Champions Cup debut for Wasps against holders Leinster Rugby at the RDS Arena on Friday night.
Latch added: “The beauty of Spark’s sport streaming service is rugby fans can watch these games live if they choose, but they will also have the option of watching them at a more respectable hour on demand.
“When fans wake up in the morning, every game will be waiting for them in the app – and so you can play them at a time and in a place that suits you.”
TVNZ Director of Content Cate Slater said: “TVNZ is excited to be partnering with Spark to give viewers more choice and control over how they watch compelling sports.
“We’re a nation of passionate rugby fans and the Heineken Champions Cup is definitely a sporting moment that matters to many New Zealanders.”
In securing these content rights, Spark has worked with RDA – which is the exclusive worldwide distributor of the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.