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Spark to stream international hockey matches

07 Nov 18

Move over Sky and free-to-air TV – sports fans will soon have another choice of provider for all their shin-whacking hockey coverage. That provider is Spark.

Well, perhaps professional hockey players in the Hockey World Cup, the Hockey Pro League and Olympic Qualification, and the National Hockey League will try not to whack too many shins, but at least Spark will be able to provide all the action as it happens.

Until 2022, Spark will offer exclusive broadcasts of International Hockey Federation (FIH) games, both live and on-demand. These will be available on Spark’s platform called Spark Sport.

We are excited by the opportunity that a partnership with Spark Sport brings. It will allow the Black Sticks and hockey in New Zealand to reach a larger audience both locally and globally. Spark Sport already has a strong line up of sports and being part of this service will open up hockey to an audience that might not have previously considered watching it,” comments New Zealand Hockey CEO Ian Francis.

In addition to coverage of rugby, football, motorsport and hockey, Spark Sport will offer the things most of us expect from a streaming service. 

“The platform will also offer a number of attractive features such as live pause, restart live events, and a comprehensive library of on-demand and highlights packages across a wide range of platforms and devices”, says Spark executive lead for sport, David Chalmers.

“We picked a name that clearly demonstrates our ambition both to help Kiwis get the most out of technology and to deliver them a better sport experience - with the freedom and flexibility to watch sport the way they want to watch, at a time that suits them.”

But before Spark Sport officially goes live, it needs a streaming platform on which to broadcast.

Enter US-based iStreamPlanet. It certainly knows its stuff – it has been behind streaming events including the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA League Pass, and the NCAA March Madness.

“The team at iStreamPlanet has sports streaming in their DNA, having been in the online sport streaming game for 15 years. They use leading cloud technologies to provide a reliable, scalable and exceptionally high-quality video experience for sports fans – and that is exactly what we want to provide New Zealanders for the Rugby World Cup 2019,” says Chalmers.

iStreamPlanet will provide a number of technical things including video encoding, video distribution, user authentication, subscription management, billing, and app development. 

“The platform will also offer a number of attractive features such as live pause, restart live events, and a comprehensive library of on-demand and highlights packages across a wide range of platforms and devices”, Chalmers continues.

This is Spark’s first sports partnership that includes local production rights. The company says it wants to be a key player in the local sports market and a provider of international sports coverage.

Spark’s hockey rights are in addition to the rugby, football and motorsport content already announced by Spark, including the Rugby World Cup 2019, the Premier League from August 2019 and Formula 1 from March 2019. More content rights will be announced soon.

Spark will announce Spark Sport pricing options and details over the next few months.