OTT & Digital

Heineken Champions Cup continues OTT drive with Spark deal

New Zealand telco lands exclusive rights to European rugby union’s elite club competition.

by Sam Carp

Heineken Champions Cup continues OTT drive with Spark deal

New Zealand telecommunications company Spark has pocketed exclusive rights to the Heineken Champions Cup for the next four years until 2021/22.

The deal will see all matches from European rugby union’s premier club competition shown live and on-demand via Spark’s new sports streaming app, which is due to launch next year with rights to English soccer’s Premier League and the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

As part of the agreement, Spark’s partner Television New Zealand (TVNZ) will show two games each week on free-to-air from the beginning of this year’s Heineken Champions Cup in October until the new app goes live in early 2019, at which point TVNZ will show one fixture a week.

“This competition is widely recognised as the ‘one to win’ amongst European club rugby players, so the quality of play is impressive,” said Spark head of sport Jeff Latch. “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.

“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.”

Latch added that Spark would be announcing the addition of more live content in the coming weeks and is also close to revealing the name of the specialist sports streaming platform powering its new app.

The tie-up with Spark sees the Heineken Champions Cup continue to go over-the-top (OTT) with its latest batch of broadcast deals after the announcement earlier this week that sports streaming service DAZN had secured exclusive rights to the tournament in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Japan.