Sky TV axes Rugby Channel

Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 18 June 2019, 11:06AM
The rugby-exclusive channel is getting axed. (Photo / File)q
The rugby-exclusive channel is getting axed. (Photo / File)q

Sky TV will axe the Rugby Channel at midnight on July 31.

A letter to Rugby Channel subscribers pitches it as a saving (the Rugby Channel costs $8.81 per month, and is only available to those who already have a sub to the $31.99/month Sky Sport).

It says Rugby Channel content - which includes documentaries, replays and European rugby - will be "moved to our regular Sky Sport channels."

The letter promises that "From August 1, we have a hugely expanded Sky Sports channel lineup launching [including] a 24/7 rugby channel."

A rep for Sky TV could not immediately say what the 24/7 rugby channel would cost. And details have yet to emerge of the expanded lineup.

Last month, new Sky TV boss Martin Stewart told the Herald that the broadcaster needed to lift its game in sport and fight harder for rights, rebuild relationships with sports bodies and make more of its content available through its Fanpass streaming service as it faced new competition from Spark Sport.

There was no immediate update on Fanpass today, but analysts will be watching closely to see how Fanpass fares in the August shakeup - which will serve as a marker about how serious Stewart is in following through on his comments that Sky TV needs to invest more in streamed content.

Pundits say Stewart has his head screwed on and praise his broad strategy. But so far, details of how it will play out have been scarce.

Sky's longtime director of sport Richard Last was one of the first to leave the building after Stewart arrived.

A sweeping cleanout also saw the broadcaster's CFO, chief technology officer, sales and marketing director, strategy head, and director John Fellet depart.

Last was replaced by Tex Teixeira in an internal promotion.


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