COMMENT:

Spark Sport has delivered rival Sky TV a perfect yorker that even Black Caps paceman Lockie Ferguson would admire.

The telco's new sport broadcast arm made another raid on Sky TV, yesterday announcing it had snared New Zealand Cricket broadcast rights for six years.

That means Spark Sport, from next April, will show all international and selected domestic cricket matches played in this country under New Zealand Cricket's umbrella.

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Other international matches – including those played by the Black Caps in Australia and India – will still screen on Sky.

The loss is less of a blow to the country's big pay television company than it suffered last April, when TVNZ and Spark revealed they would broadcast the Rugby World Cup.

But it was still keenly felt; Sky TV shares tumbled by more than 20 per cent on yesterday's news and hit a record low of 88c apiece.

The timing of the announcement no doubt hurt Sky.

Chief executive Martin Stewart was looking to re-build the company's dominance as the "home of sport" after the loss of the World Cup rights under his predecessor John Fellet.

The NZX-listed firm had also recently launched a cricket-dedicated channel and revamped its streaming service and prices.

For Spark, the win will help ensure its longevity and gives it a key sporting code in its arsenal for next year and beyond.

The move shows that the company is committed to its sports streaming strategy and won't try to wind down the service after the final whistle blows in Yokohama on November 2.

For Kiwis, the news is mixed.

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Some who live in rural New Zealand won't have fast enough broadband speeds to let them watch live sports over the internet.

Some may run into the same trouble with streaming as they are now — depending on Spark's ability to learn from its Rugby World Cup mistakes.

Many – particularly cricket tragics – will now also need to pay for two subscriptions to get their sporting fix.

If they want to keep up with local matches, they'll need to get Spark and if they want to follow international series like the Ashes, they'll need to subscribe to Sky.

But as the Herald has argued before, competition generally delivers consumers better outcomes.

While the jostling over rights means some will have to stump up twice, having two more evenly-matched players in the market will ultimately mean better services and prices for Kiwi sport fans.