Sky TV is scoffing at Spark's move to make its sports streaming service free until May.
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And it won't be following Optus across the Tasman, which has been issuing refunds for sports streaming customers as the event calendar is decimated.
"Temporarily suspending fees for Spark Sport would have been an easy call to make, given the main three international sports it offers are not currently competing," Sky external relations director Chris Major says, while the telco's Rugby World Cup payment went to World Rugby.
The Sky exec argues her company is part of the local sports eco-system in NZ, so it has to keep subscription revenue flowing for the benefit of everyone.
"Not paying the EPL in England for a month or so won't hurt anyone in New Zealand," Major says. (Spark says its payments to all sports partners will continue.)
"Our challenge is much harder. We're big on local sport, and the payments we make to New Zealand sport on behalf of our customers are an important financial lifeline for many Kiwi sports – like NZ Rugby, NZ Netball, the Vodafone Warriors and NZ Rugby league, NZ Cricket, the Phoenix and Football NZ, the Sky Sport Breakers, NZ Golf and the NZ Open, Tennis NZ and the ASB Classic, the NZOC, to name a few - as well as the 50+ local sports in the Sky Sport Next programme like softball, waterpolo, athletics, basketball and surfing."
Three of the biggest competitions on the Spark Sport roster - English Premier League football, Formula 1 racing and NBA basketball (shared with Sky) - are all on hold, hit by Covid-19 fears.
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"New Zealanders wanting to stream free sport content should look local – there are hours of kiwi sport for free on the Sky Sport Next YouTube channel," Major says.
Sky shares were up 1.6 per cent to 31 cents in early trading, recovering a small amount of ground after their drubbing over the previous two trading days, but faded late to finish down 4.9 per cent to a fresh all-time low of 29c.
Several Sky subscribers have told the Herald they have cancelled their sub or put it on hold, with most top-tier competitions now a coronavirus hiatus, with action not expected to resume anytime soon.
However, the pay-TV broadcaster has yet to comment on any impact on its existing guidance.
In a two-line market update on Monday, Sky said it supported government moves to contain the spread of Covid-19, and was still working to asses the impact on its business.
It anticipated a further update later in the week.