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Volume 7 No. 147


Spark's "encroachment into the sports viewing market in New Zealand may have taken another significant step," with the potential acquisition of Premier League rights, according to Michael Burgess of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The telecom secured the rights to the 2019 Rugby World Cup earlier this year, and is reportedly "about to secure coverage of the world's most popular football league." Spark is "close to grabbing" the rights to the EPL from the start of the '19-20 season for a three-year period. It means that New Zealand's EPL fans "may have to sign up" for Spark's service from next year. If Spark's acquisition is confirmed, it will be "viewed as another blow" for Sky TV in the sports arena. While EPL matches do not attract audiences that are comparable to Super Rugby or the National Rugby League -- "partly because of the unfriendly viewing times" -- they have been a "vital" part of Sky TV's portfolio (NZ HERALD, 5/16).

Twitch announced a partnership with Stadium, a "traditional sports network" featuring American college football, basketball and Olympic sports, according to Trent Murray of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. Twitch will broadcast the Stadium Sports Network on a dedicated channel, which will be live 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stadium will also "provide a second channel designed for co-streaming, allowing other streamers the opportunity to provide their own commentary over Stadium content." Stadium launched in '17 and is owned by a conglomerate of entertainment and sports enterprises, including Sinclair Broadcast Group, the NHL and the PGA Tour. Twitch has been "steadily increasing" its traditional sports coverage. Stadium is the platform's second 24/7 sports channel, following Eleven Sports, which debuted in March (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 5/16).

Football broadcaster Kate Abdo was announced as a studio host for Turner and Bleacher Report's UEFA Champions League coverage, beginning with the upcoming '18-19 season. Abdo will be the primary host for Champions League studio shows originating from Turner Studios, with studio coverage airing across Turner's TV networks (TBS, TNT and truTV) (Turner).

The Netherlands is one of 15 countries in the world where the World Cup will be broadcast in 4K/Ultra HD. During the World Cup, a "special version" of NPO 1 will be available through participating distributors. Although no official announcements have been made by Dutch distributors, it "seems likely" that KPN will offer the special 4K version of NPO 1 via its set-top boxes for its IPTV service Interactieve TV (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 5/15).

DTM racing has "already kicked off" and every round can be watched on free-to-air TV in the U.K. "thanks to FreeSports." The channel will also show highlights every Thursday after each round. As well as DTM, FreeSports shows live World RX coverage, Australia Supercars highlights, speedway, Monster Jam, Formula Drift and NASCAR (AUTOSPORT, 5/15).