Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sky and 2020

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  • Russell Brown,

    Gulp. Sky's share price slumps to an eight-year low.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Ram,

    It's a shame Telecom didn't keep on with Xtra. Couple of missteps at the end in dealings with Microsoft etc. Innovation stopped and technology rolled over the top of the business model. And the business model didn't adapt.

    Since Mar 2008 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    In some ways the decision was not that surprising – the content part, as in Sky sport, was always going to be contentious and re-seller provisions were absent or light (Sky’s person seemed to suggest that Spark et al walked away from ‘equivalent’ type offers made to them, which is curious).

    In industry speak there may have also been concerns about VHA ‘zero rating’ sky content to build its customer base.

    As for the rugby rights, I would think the holders would want to avoid a ransom model approach (which is what has happened with EPL rights in OZ, under the current ownership of Optus) – instead a multi-platform approach would seem the most sensible, as encapsulated in the ‘season pass’ offerings which exist for leagues such as the NBA. This would align with more content being delivered via online platforms, something NZ seems much better positioned for than Oz given the current high uptake of 100 mbps plans (and near ubiquitous infrastructure). Dark fibre sounds sexy, but really its just a transmission input – if it’s a bottleneck it’ll get regulated, if not competition will push down prices and perhaps enable direct access (that’s what’s on the cusp of happening in OZ, but I’m not fully across the NZ situation).

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    As for the rugby rights, I would think the holders would want to avoid a ransom model approach (which is what has happened with EPL rights in OZ, under the current ownership of Optus) – instead a multi-platform approach would seem the most sensible, as encapsulated in the ‘season pass’ offerings which exist for leagues such as the NBA.

    Yeah, good point. What we may well be looking at is the end of exclusivity.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    Absolutely - just to clarify, currently here you have to sign up with Optus to get EPL, there is no resale (aside from one game per week on free to air) - thats quite a big ask, and there is a view that consequently EPL's profile locally has nosedived this season. The whole multi-platform model means there is an online channel alongside traditional TV channel (irrespective of whether the TV channel can also stream delivery).

    PS: Go the Blues

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    When the TAB decided to move exclusively to the Sky platform, a nice offer came out from Sky/TAB giving free installation and free 3 months access to TAB on Sky plus a bonus of a Sky channel rotated on a weekly basis to give non-Sky subscribers a taste of the basic channel offerings. As we'd just moved and needed a satellite connection for Freeview, we naturally took up the offer - and then cancelled on conclusion of the three month period as per the terms of the offer.

    Best value I've ever had out of Sky :-).

    And I watch races live online via the TAB website. It all worked out swimmingly.

    We had Sky many moons ago when it first started up. We dropped it because of their deal with NZRU - one of the worst examples of social exclusion in NZ to my mind.

    If as you say, those coverage rights sustain the game in this country, then they (NZRU) are likely in for a big pay cut too. I suspect the heady days are over.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Sky’s person seemed to suggest that Spark et al walked away from ‘equivalent’ type offers made to them

    No real interest from ISP's (or their customers) in ‘wholesale’ that is basically reselling Sky’s box and bundle model. Consumers want their sport fix on the go via mobile or on device at home. NBC had an awesome Olympics app which people could use to watch live, replays, interviews etc etc on their mobile. I'd definitely pay for that.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Josie McNaught,

    So...... this deal fell over because some blokes were fretting about being able to afford to pay for coverage of rugby and cricket???? what if the deal had provided enhanced access to arts, culture, design, film (independent film I should say) performance and other aesthetic pursuits? What about more access to more comment, discussion, debate, ... not just in NZ but internationally??? Unlikely I know, but surely it can't be all for the sake of RUGBY!?!?!?

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    Sky would have to be a lot leaner and smarter in their offerings to entice me, and I'm already with Vodafone and have a fibre connection. I'm just not really all that willing to pay over the odds for a vast quantity of channels I don't want to watch, in order to then pay more for channels I do want to watch.

    Season passes, or streaming pay per view without having to be a subscriber would be much more attractive than their current offerings.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    Hi Russell,

    On May 1 this year, it will be 20 years since Telecom launched its first real consumer ISP – Xtra – kicking off the mainstreaming of of the internet in New Zealand.

    I think it will actually be 21 years.

    I worked in the telemarketing team selling Xtra services from late 1996 until June 1997 so I'm pretty sure that the launch was in 1996. FWIW, Wikipedia agrees with me.

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Chopper,

    I think it will actually be 21 years.

    Duh. I'm a bit post-Splore this week.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Campbell, in reply to Chopper,

    I had a job interview at Xtra in what must have been mid-1995. I thought they were up and running at that time, but I guess I must be wrong if they launched in '96.

    (Luckily, I flubbed the interview completely - I'd come down with some nasty bug and rolled up feeling utterly wretched.)

    Christchurch • Since May 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Campbell,

    I had a job interview at Xtra in what must have been mid-1995. I thought they were up and running at that time, but I guess I must be wrong if they launched in '96.

    They were somewhat grudgingly providing a form of internet access in 1995, but all the growth was with Iconz, Ihug and Voyager – they were very much dragged into consumer internet.

    It's actually a pretty amazing story. Rod Deane saw Tyler present at a conference, thought he was a visionary and hired him. I think Tyler's determination to create something outside Telecom's suit-and-tie culture was influential, but he was a very erratic character. He even disappeared for a while – we took to asking where he was every week in Computerworld – and I was later told that Deane had to fetch him back from a bender in Australia.

    Tyler was also directly responsible for Telecom suing me after I mocked the security failings of Digital Video Productions, the basket-case Brisbane developer he'd convinced Telecom to buy (they'd left work-in-progress for the NZ herald sitting out on the internet). DVP was responsible for the original Xtra site.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    This is where library databases come into their own; in this case Proquest ANZ Newsstream which most public libraries offer their members for free via their websites (as long as you don't have a stack of overdue book fines sitting on your account...). Being relegated to a small write-up on page 14 illustrates how MSM didn't really get the significance of what was happening at the time.


    Dominion 16 May 1996, p.14

    "TELECOM staked a claim in the burgeoning Internet market yesterday when it set up Xtra -- Telecom's Internet access service and Web site.

    Chairman Peter Shirtcliffe said the Internet was in its infancy as a mass medium, but Telecom would position itself for a leadership role as the market developed.

    "New Zealand businesses have yet to realise the savings the Internet can offer through immediate access to data," Mr Shirtcliffe said.

    Telecom anticipated significant growth for Xtra as a market for goods and services, he said.

    The site features 12 categories, including sport, news and weather, community, education and reference, travel, shopping and entertainment, as well as the Yellow Pages and Directories search.

    Apart from Reuters, major news outlets were not represented but Telecom was negotiating with several outlets, including Television New Zealand.

    The launch was accompanied by special offers of free connection and 10 hours free access within the first month for the first 5000 subscribers and for all schools which take advantage of Telecom's special Learning Line offer within a year.

    The connection fee is $39.95 and three time-based pricing packages are available. Monthly charges ranged from $19.95 including two hours connection to $49.95 including 10 hours connection.

    Noting that Telecom's prices were competitive but not significantly cheaper than other Internet service providers, Telecom's general manager Internet Services, Chris Tyler, said Telecom would respond to market conditions as required.

    He said in the first year Telecom expected to win more than half of all new Internet connections. "

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Consumers want their sport fix on the go via mobile or on device at home.

    Ah the drug analogy, its so right. I can just imagine sport junkies in an alley pumping up a vein with their device ;-)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    the end of exclusivity.

    Nice idea. Hope it happens. Not optimistic.

    And I know the America's Cup isn't exactly a sympathy earner, but I'm staring down the barrel of my first ever Sky sub. Don't wanna. Ain't gonna. It's just not that important.

    So stupid, because I'd gladly part with a few buck just to get the stream through the AC app. But the whole rigmarole of some dick coming and landing me with an STB? Forget it.

    It's like the Olympics all over again.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • James Ting-Edwards,

    Hi Russell! Firstly, thanks again for coming out and helping InternetNZ run our copyright event on Tuesday night. I'll let you know when we've got video from that online.

    The pressures from faster speeds are interesting indeed, and are affecting a range of decisions. The latest telco review paper from MBIE does go as far as a 100/20 anchor product. But that still seems pretty low as a baseline for 2020, when people are buying Gigabit now.

    Since Aug 2015 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    NZ seems much better positioned for than Oz given the current high uptake of 100 mbps plans

    Stop making me cry!

    We technically have a 100Mbits plan here in Sydney, with Hellstra cable, and it consistently delivers 50Mbits off peak and 20Mbits peak. Apparently when the National Broadband Network rolls out to our area we will upgraded to an "up to 25Mbits" connection that if reports are to be believed will deliver somewhere between 10 and 15 during peak times.

    Another reason Australians pirate more content than anywhere else in the world is that if you want to watch in HD let alone 4k it really helps to download it first then watch it later. Most content providers don't let you do that (so I'm told. Ahem). With 5-ish "content consumers" in the house we chew 400GB-500GB a month, and that just can't happen if it's limited to the times we're actually home and awake. Not with 20Mbits for most of that time, anyway.

    Not to mention my habit of watching youtube in HD or 2.5k at 1.5x or 2x speed. Try doing that with 5 people on a 20Mbits connection. Snort. But then we would cheerfully pay more than the $120-odd a month we do now if we could get a decent speed.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson, in reply to Moz,

    Moz you've got pretty good speeds relative to many! As it happens I work in Regulatory Affairs for Telstra, so what you speak of is familiar. Your HFC infrastructure will get upgraded as part of the NBN rollout, and you will have the option of purchasing a 100 mbps plan (and possibly higher) from more than the current one RSP. There are also moves afoot to improve disclosures and consumer awareness about speeds outcomes/expectations prior to contracting, so your lot should improve with time.

    Some of what you refer to with congestion goes to upstream infrastructure, and crosses over to Russell's earlier point on dark fibre - international peering arrangements and domestic caching are also factors, and I think its safe to say there will be improvements in all of these areas in the years ahead, as actions are taken to meet ever growing consumer demand.

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    option of purchasing a 100 mbps plan (and possibly higher)

    This is very much building a better stagecoach territory.

    And a 100Mbits "we paid extra for more speed" connection that drops from half the advertised bandwidth to one fifth during the time we most want to use it is "better than most"... you wankers.

    But hooray, it's possible that at some time in the future our legacy connection might be "upgraded" to a marginally less antique version of the same thing and if that happens there's a possibility that we might be allowed to pay extra for slightly faster internet, or maybe choose a different provider? Excuse me while I vomit.

    It's pure politics: Malcolm Turnbull assured us that the NBN would be an expensive piece of junk, and he's made it so. A political promise has been delivered. Sadly it's not one of the useful ones. And too bad about the other stuff he promised at the same time... cheaper and sooner have long stopped being options (it was going to be completed in 2016, IIRC).

    My approach is to buy a different house, one that has one of those "unnecessary" fibre to the home connections, and hope that eventually gigabit internet drops from the current $17,000 a month on the NBN (plus usage charges) to something more reasonable (I kid you not, kiwis, I kid you not)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    Easy Moz - I'm not the architect of the NBN policy, or involved in any service delivery let alone responsible for it - there is a long, long history here and I agree its not pretty and as evident from your posts very underwhelming from a consumer perspective. I'm simply a mid tier nine to fiver who's been on deck for 2 years, working to pay my mortgage & put food on the table for my family.

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I nominally have a gigabit connection at home, in practice I can get 600Mb/s to a test server here in Dunedin, about 300Mb/s to Wellington, under 100Mb/s offshore ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I’m getting around 7mb/s download speeds on average. We are however, getting a shiny new motorway just down the road, which means we get to be able to drive an electric car to the cbd (where it’s all happening) at 100k/ph ( idealy a second hand Tesla) in three or four years.

    7mb/s is adaquit for what we do now. But when we start playing around with our own hobbist mars rover exbidition, we would like some gigantism internet connection.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I nominally have a gigabit connection at home, in practice I can get 600Mb/s to a test server here in Dunedin, about 300Mb/s to Wellington, under 100Mb/s offshore ….

    I got some fairly spectacular speeds when I moved up to gigabit, but right now it's 400 down and 500 up to my ISP's test server. I gather no one gets actual gigabit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Personally (but I am sure i speak for many) I can’t wait to dance on Sky’s grave. Appalling customer service, rip-off packages, and a managment culture of a two finger salute to consumers mean their viewers are hostages to their sport monopoly, not customers to be looked after.

    Fuck them, and the boat they came in.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

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