Sky TV will axe the Rugby Channel at midnight on July 31.

A letter to Rugby Channel subscribers pitches it as a saving (the Rugby Channel costs $8.81 per month, and is only available to those who already have a sub to the $31.99/month Sky Sport).

It says Rugby Channel content - which includes documentaries, replays and European rugby - will be "moved to our regular Sky Sport channels".

The letter promises that "From August 1, we have a hugely expanded Sky Sports channel lineup launching [including] a 24/7 rugby channel."


A spokeswoman for Sky says the 24/7 rugby channel will be at no extra charge.

There are no details of the expanded channel line-up yet, but Sky's new director of sport Tex Teixeira offers: "Removing the Rugby Channel fee and making the channel's content available to all Sky Sport customers follows a move to show all our secondary school rugby on regular Sky Sport channels earlier this year.

"We want to show our customers that we're committed to doing the right thing by them. This change is the first of a number of changes coming to Sky Sport in August, and we look forward to sharing more on those soon."

Radio Sport's Elliott Smith notes Sky has stripped the Rugby Channel of most of its unique content, "so it seems like the obvious play here is to cart it off."

Smith is picking that Sky here will follow Sky in the UK and Foxtel in Australia by introducing Sky Rugby, Sky Cricket and other channels named after codes, which will be easier for viewers to follow that the current Sky Sport 1 - 4.

Last month, new Sky TV boss Martin Stewart told the Herald that the broadcaster needed to lift its game in sport and fight harder for rights, rebuild relationships with sports bodies and make more of its content available through its Fanpass streaming service as it faced new competition from Spark Sport.

There was no immediate update on Fanpass today, but analysts will be watching closely to see how Fanpass fares in the August shakeup - which will serve as a marker about how serious Stewart is in following through on his comments that Sky TV needs to invest more in streamed content.

Pundits say Stewart has his head screwed on and praise his broad strategy. But so far, details of how it will play out have been scarce.


Sky's longtime director of sport Richard Last was one of the first to leave the building after Stewart arrived.

A sweeping cleanout also saw the broadcaster's CFO, chief technology officer, sales and marketing director, strategy head, and director John Fellet depart.

Last was replaced by Teixeira in an internal promotion.