Spark Sport Scores New Coup

Spark Sport will add rugby league to its roster with exclusive rights to next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

The Cup is considered to be the code’s pinnacle event. It’s globally contested every four years but  RLWC2021 will mark a milestone with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions being staged together for the first time.

It will be the most visible rugby league event in history with all 61 games in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions being broadcast live on the BBC.

The three tournaments will take place across 21 venues throughout England between Saturday 23 October and Saturday 27 November 2021.

Both the women’s and wheelchair competitions will be contested by two groups of four teams, whilst the men’s tournament will see 16 teams compete across four groups.

Here’s the media release:


    • RLWC2021 confirm Spark Sport, who have acquired the rights to international men’s and women’s cricket, F1, Premier League football, the NBA and NFL, will showcase the tournament in the celebrated Rugby League market of New Zealand
    • The innovative partnership will embrace consumer trends and further underline RLWC2021’s vision to deliver the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup

Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) today (17 June) announce Spark Sport as the exclusive broadcast rights holder in the key territory of New Zealand.

RLWC2021 will be Spark Sport’s first foray into Rugby League with the trailblazing event on a platform which already boasts New Zealand men’s and women’s cricket, F1, Premier League football, the NBA and NFL.

After a competitive tender process, Spark Sport offered a proposition that presented a dynamic approach for bringing RLWC2021 to the significant fan base in New Zealand this autumn as well as aligning with RLWC2021’s vison of delivering the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever.

Jonathan Neill, RLWC2021 Commercial Director, said: “Our ambition is for RLWC2021 to open up new opportunities for the sport and Spark Sport has shown their commitment by confirming they will show all 61 matches across the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair tournaments.

“Our partnership with Spark Sport provides a significant focus for growing both the women’s and wheelchair games as well as showcasing the excitement and appeal of international Rugby League. Spark Sport will provide dynamic and flexible viewing options, with a deep level of content and engagement to support the continued growth of the sport.

“We’re looking forward to engaging with fans in New Zealand, exciting all existing and new Rugby League viewers, and inspiring a new generation to create a legacy via RLWC2021.”

The prospect of Spark Sport making their Rugby League debut understandably fires the enthusiasm of Head of Sport, Jeff Latch, who said: “Rugby League World Cup 2021 marks a pinnacle event for the Rugby League world, and we are enormously proud to have secured the rights to bring the tournament to league fans from a range of diverse communities across Aotearoa.

“There’s a great opportunity for the Kiwi Ferns to showcase the skill and talent in the women’s game with all eyes on them as one of the favourites. The Kiwi men on the other hand are looking for redemption as anticipation builds around who will make the squad with the growing Kiwi talent pool coming through the NRL.

“There’s a huge New Zealand fan base supporting our Kiwi teams, and our neighbouring Pacific teams with Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands bringing competitive squads and plenty of passion and flair to the tournament.

“I think back to the last Rugby League World Cup and the energy these teams and their fans brought to the sold-out venues. They really were the heart of the tournament and I love that this year we’ll get to bring them all the action from England.”

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4 Responses to “Spark Sport Scores New Coup”

  1. That’s great for splitting fans again but weren’t Spark Sport going to give an update on the cricket viewership etc? So far all we’ve heard are … crickets.

  2. Thanks Clint. That was part of a press release by NZ Cricket. It gave almost no information from NZC or SparkSport about actual viewership. There were about 30 Blackcaps & White Ferns matches in NZ over the summer – does that wean that on average 8,000 people watched a game (240,000 Spark Sport viewers watched over the summer) compared to an average of 310,000 that watched on TVNZ? If it really was a success and justified that level of investment that Spark has undertaken then providing transparency on performance would be welcome. Providing opaque descriptors suggests its been as successful as Lightbox.
    Contrast the cricket information with the release on the RWC. As I said before … crickets.

  3. Oh, I don’t necessary believe the numbers but I was saying they had released some.

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