The summer of cricket is here and Black Caps matches this season are now only available – with the exception of some free-to-air games – via streaming on Spark Sport.
However, Sky Sport still boasts a solid portfolio of cricket content, including India's tour of Australia.
It all makes for a slightly confusing TV schedule for cricket fans, so here's all you need to know about the upcoming summer season including how to watch the Black Caps, how the broadcasting rights is divvied up and the matches that will be available for free.
Wait so the Black Caps aren't on Sky TV anymore?
Well, yes for this year at least. Spark Sport announced last year that it will become the official rights partner for New Zealand Cricket for six years from April 2020.
It means Spark Sport snagged the rights to NZ Cricket games played in New Zealand (including the Black Caps and White Ferns), while Sky still has the rights to Cricket Australia games played in Australia and BCCI (India) games played in India, as well as other international and domestic matches including England's tour to South Africa, and the IPL which many cricket fans would've watched on Sky this year.
So when the Black Caps tour Australia or India, it will be back on Sky. But this season it's all on Spark with the exception of four T20s (the first matches of the series against the West Indies, Pakistan and Australian and the final T20 of the Bangladesh series) which will also be broadcast free-to-air on TVNZ 1.
Here's how the cricket broadcasting rights look:
Spark Sport: Every Black Caps and White Ferns home game live, all Men's and Women's Super Smash games, Ford Trophy final.
Sky Sport: Live Black Caps and White Ferns games played in Australia and India, other cricket internationals, Cricket World Cup qualifiers and ICC tournaments, as well as selected IPL and Big Bash games live.
Ah that's pretty confusing but I think I get it now. Who are the Black Caps and White Ferns playing?
The Black Caps will host the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh, starting with a T20 to kick off their season against the Windies at Eden Park on Friday night.
The White Ferns are coming off a tough tour in Australia, which was broadcast on Sky, where they only managed to win one T20 out of seven Twenty20 and ODI clashes. The Ferns will be back in action next year with one-day world champs England confirmed to visit in February and March, while they are also set to host Australia early next year as well. The White Ferns' international schedule for next year is yet to be announced.
Um, awkward question but how does one stream the cricket?
Don't worry, streaming can be confusing and at times not as reliable as satellite TV. (We all know what happened at the Rugby World Cup last year.) But there are also many benefits to streaming, including both live and on-demand features, mobile viewing, and cheaper and more flexible prices.
Both Spark and Sky have pretty solid streaming services that work well and are fairly intuitive.
Spark Sport is available for $24.99/month and includes live and on-demand coverage of New Zealand cricket, the Premier League and Formula One as well as many other sports.
Sky Sport Now, Sky's streaming service, is priced at $19.99/week, $39.99/month or $399.99/year and includes live and on-demand coverage of rugby (including the All Blacks), football, netball, cricket, and well basically almost every sport.
To see a complete breakdown of how and where to watch every sport in New Zealand, here's a handy sport TV mega guide I wrote earlier this year.
When it comes to using streaming services, you can access both Spark Sport and Sky Sport Now using smartphones or tablets, laptops or desktop computers, most smart TVs, Chromecast, Apple TV or any other device that is compatible. Full details for each streaming service will be on the respective company websites.
Spark is also available on some Freeview boxes, while Sky also has its traditional satellite TV option which also comes with Sky Go for mobile viewing.
Personally, with streaming I tend to go for the mobile option via the Spark Sport and Sky Sport Now apps on smartphones, then cast it to my TV using Chromecast when I'm home.
Can I listen to the Black Caps and who is in the commentary teams?
If you would rather tune in to the radio commentary, Magic Talk is your place to go with MediaWorks Radio signing a three-year broadcasting deal with NZ Cricket to have the rights for live, free-to-air commentary of all Black Caps and White Ferns matches in New Zealand.
MediaWorks Radio announced last month that Simon Doull, Mike Hesson and Rikki Swannell will form its cricket commentary team this summer.
Back to TV, Spark Sport unveiled its commentary team earlier this month with former Black Caps captains Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming the headline acts. The duo will be joined by NZ cricket household names Mark Richardson, Craig McMillan, Grant Elliott, Jeetan Patel, Rebecca Rolls and Frankie McKay. Rugby World Cup commentator Scotty Stevenson and actor and presenter Sonia Gray make up the coverage.
Sky Sport's rejigged commentary team headed by Ian Smith will likely be announced in the future when New Zealand international cricket is back on the platform.