16 Aug 2019

Sky TV bets big on rugby with $62m streaming service purchase

11:35 am on 16 August 2019

Sky Television is purchasing online rugby streaming service RugbyPass for $US40 million ($NZ62m).

All Blacks first-five/fullback Beauden Barrett tries to evade a tackle by Australian winger Marika Koroibete.

Photo: Photosport

RugbyPass is the largest rugby content publisher in the world and is currently majority-owned by a US-based private investment firm Cooper and Company, run by New Zealander Peter Cooper.

The service has the rights to Super Rugby and Rugby Championship competitions in 62 countries across Asia and Europe and live streams content in those regions as well as Australia, and also produces its own original rugby-related content.

Sky chief executive Martin Stewart said RugbyPass had established itself as an important player in the sport streaming world and had the ability to reach rugby fans in markets not well-served.

"Sky's investment will support that growth plan, including by leveraging our capabilities of developing rugby communities and providing high quality and engaging rugby content."

Sky already had the rights to SANZAAR matches in New Zealand and Mr Stewart said the purchase fitted with Sky's strategy of focusing on digital services to grow.

"The acquisition of RugbyPass allows us to extend Sky's reach beyond New Zealand borders and opens up significant opportunities for Sky and for our partners."

Sky had already moved to revamp its digital offering locally, replacing its Fan Pass service with its Sky Sport Now app.

It vowed not to lose any further sports rights, after missing out on the 2019 Rugby World Cup broadcast contract to competitor Spark.

The $US40m purchase price is made up of $10m cash and issuance of new Sky shares of $20m at completion, with the remaining $10m payable in cash during an agreed earn out period.

RugbyPass will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sky, with the sale due to be completed on 19 August.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs