Tuesday, 07 July 2020 07:52

Spark picks Whisper as six-year production partner for NZ cricket

The Whisper founders: David Coulthard, Sunil Patel and Jake Humphrey. The Whisper founders: David Coulthard, Sunil Patel and Jake Humphrey. Supplied

New Zealand sports broadcaster Spark Sport has selected award-winning British production firm Whisper as production partner for all New Zealand cricket played at home for the next six summers.

In a statement, Spark said this would be Whisper's first New Zealand production and would involve coverage of all home Black Caps and White Ferns — the men's and women's cricket teams — Internationals and Super Smash matches on Spark Sport and free-to-air on TVNZ for select T20 Internationals and Super Smash matches. Super Smash is the New Zealand domestic T20 tournament.

Spark Sport chief Jeff Latch said the process to select Whisper has taken a long time.

"Whisper's vision of delivering sports production with an entertainment edge aligns perfectly with the direction Spark Sport and New Zealand Cricket want to take our brands and cricket production," he said. "They have a unique ability to harness the power of entertainment and mix that with live sports to captivate an audience so we can't wait for them to join our team.

"As host rights holder, we want to appeal to the current sports watcher, but also need to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of young, diverse New Zealand cricket fans and Whisper showcased their ability to connect with a global audience by producing content that resonates widely.

"Whisper will bring some top global talent in cricket production including a director who has been instrumental in producing sport across the Tasman for Channel 9 and the producer who put together the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup final. However, the majority of our cricket production team will be sourced from New Zealand's experienced freelance production workforce."

Whisper was set up in in 2010 by Formula One driver David Coulthard, the face of football for BT Sport, Jake Humphrey, and BAFTA award-winning producer Sunil Patel, who is chief executive.

The company produces the BBC's highlights coverage of English cricket, all international cricket fixtures played in the West Indies, extensive Formula One highlights plus one live race for Channel 4 and NFL for the BBC. Whisper also specialises in women's sport, covering the Women's Super League and Women's Rugby Six Nations.

Whisper managing director Mark Cole said: "Spark Sport and Whisper share similar ambition and this partnership seems to be a great meeting of minds. Whisper is focused on bringing a point of difference to the New Zealand sports scene by providing world class coverage and a real focus on storytelling.

"We're looking forward to working with the White Ferns and Black Caps players and showcasing the exciting talent on display with a fresh, new take on sports entertainment.

"We have recently appointed former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan as an advisory board member so he will also have a supporting role on this project. We also intend to work extensively with local production talent, as we have in the West Indies and elsewhere, and to draw upon and benefit from their vast experience and local knowledge."

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White expressed delight at the development and said he was excited by the energy Whisper would bring to the game.

"Spark is proving it has an appetite for reimagining what the future of cricket in New Zealand looks like," he said. "Our teams are eager to create something new so having some of the top global production talent in the mix is getting them excited.

"And for the local freelance production industry, it also gives them something new to look forward to as we bring New Zealand cricket to life with Spark Sport."

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