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Why Sky is screening some of its top-dollar sport for free

Why Sky is screening some of its top-dollar sport for free

Sky TV became the big beast of pay TV by exclusively screening the country’s most popular sports live for paying subscribers. This week it suddenly announced top rugby, netball and league will soon screen in the weekends free-to-air as well on one of its own channels. Why? 

Moana Pasifika's Ereatara Enari is seen during the Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Moana Pasifika at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on April 7, 2src23. (Photo by Sanka VIDANAGAMA / AFP)

Moana Pasifika’s Ereatara Enari is seen during the Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Moana Pasifika at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on April 7, 2023.
Photo: SANKA VIDANAGAMA

Former New Zealand wicketkeeper-turned-commentator Ian Smith made the news briefly last month for an offhand comment on Australian TV. 

Asked to comment on TVNZ footage of a stunning catch in a Super Smash T20 game in Wellington, Smith said the catch was great but the commentary was “shithouse.”

Few cricket fans here would have seen that coverage of the lunch break in the first test between West Indies and Australia – and they would have had to have been listening closely to have caught Smith’s insult. 

But TVNZ – which acquired broadcasting rights to domestic and international cricket last year following the closure of Spark Sport – did not let it go. 

”New Zealanders have strong opinions about the commentary and there is no team that will please every viewer – particularly when that viewing audience is over a million,” a spokesperson said.

A million for a Firebirds 20/20 game at the Basin Reserve live on TVNZ Duke? It turned out the figure is a cumulative one for Black Caps’ games since TVNZ acquired the broadcast rights. 

But NZ Cricket boss Scott Weenik recently said it was very happy with the views the game was getting on free-to-air TV these days. 

Before Spark Sport, Sky TV was the only g

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