Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Sky & Prime TV to share Commonwealth Games

TVNZ has sold its broadcast rights for this year's Commonwealth Games to Sky Television, which says it will screen 12 hours a day live on its free-to-air channel Prime Television.

The 19th Commonwealth Games begins in New Delhi, India on October 3rd 2010 and runs for two weeks. Details of the sale were not revealed, but it's believed Sky paid around US$4 million for the rights, half what TVNZ originally paid.

Prime will also broadcast a daily highlights package, while pay broadcaster Sky TV plans to dedicate five 24-hour channels to the sports event, along with highlights packages, and "extensive" coverage online and through mobile phone services.

TVNZ last year revealed it was trying to offload broadcast rights to the Commonwealth Games to Sky. The State broadcaster has been the rights holder for 40 years, but is under financial pressure after a big drop in advertising revenue.

TVNZ was expecting to face a loss of around $5 million to cover this year's Games. The time difference between New Zealand and Delhi would mean most of the Games' main events would screen here late at night or early in the morning.
Sky CEO John Fellet says the combined coverage of the broadcaster's pay and free-to-air channels will give New Zealanders "more extensive and comprehensive coverage than they have ever seen before", with over 1400 hours of television coverage.

Sky is preparing to cover next month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, including free coverage of events on Prime TV. The Commonwealth Games coverage plans will be a good test for the broadcaster, which also has the rights to the 2012 Beijing Olympics. Sky is proposing 22 hours a day of free-to-air coverage for the Olympic Games.

* Radio NZ: TVNZ sells 2010 Commonwealth Games rights to Sky

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