Telecommunications company Spark Sport has acquired the exclusive rights in New Zealand for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2021), marking the broadcaster’s first foray into the sport.
Replacing Sky New Zealand – which has carried the competition since 2017 – as the country’s RLWC broadcaster, Spark also comes as the tournament’s first international broadcast partner.
As part of the deal, Spark will screen 61 matches from the three tournaments, including the men’s, women’s and wheelchair RLWC taking place in England, later this year, with representation from New Zealand in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
“We are enormously proud to have secured the rights to bring the tournament to league fans from a range of diverse communities across Aotearoa,” commented Jeff Latch, Head of Spark Sport. “There’s a great opportunity for the Kiwi Ferns to showcase the skill and talent in the women’s game, with all eyes on them as one of the favourites.
The Kiwi men on the other hand are looking for redemption as anticipation builds around who will make the squad with the growing Kiwi talent pool coming through the NRL.
“There’s a huge New Zealand fan base supporting our Kiwi teams, and our neighbouring Pacific teams with Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands bringing competitive squads and plenty of passion and flair to the tournament.”
Spark Sport already holds the rights to men’s and women’s international cricket, Formula One, the Premier League and the National Basketball Association (NBA), but the latest deal will see the broadcaster take its first steps into rugby league.
The men’s RLWC will run from 23 October to 27 November, with the women’s tournament held between 9 November and 27 November, and finishing up with the wheelchair RLWC from 11 to 21 November.
Jonathan Neill, RLWC2021 Commercial Director, added: “Our ambition is for RLWC2021 to open up new opportunities for the sport and Spark Sport has shown their commitment by confirming they will show all 61 matches across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments.
“We’re looking forward to engaging with fans in New Zealand, exciting all existing and new Rugby League viewers, and inspiring a new generation to create a legacy via RLWC2021.”