New Zealand Enters a Season of Channel War

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 1, 2014 8:42 PM EST

A channel war is brewing in the TV sector of New Zealand, with new challenger Telecom announcing its intent to take on the entrenched contender Sky TV with streaming videos.

With a monthly subscription of $15 a month the Kiwi viewers will be flooded with a raft of high-profile on-demand shows from Telecom's Internet television venture Lightbox.

Reuters
Cast members (L-R) Luke Arnold, Hannah New, creator Jonathan E. Steinberg, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Zach McGowan attend the premiere screening of the Starz series "Black Sails" in Los Angeles January 8, 2014.

Telecom is clearly wooing New Zealanders with lower prices. It has readied fully operational content for 5000 hours and the content can be accessed on five devices. Hit shows like Arrested Development, Outlander and Mad Men are also being offered as exclusive offerings.

Sky Response

For consumers, the Sky TV incurs monthly costs of $50 a month for basic package plus installation costs. Sky announced its focus on high end content with an HBO deal to screen shows such as Game of Thrones and Girls on the premium SoHo channel.

Sky has also announced its plan to enter the SVOD (subscribed video on demand service) segment with reruns of TV shows and exclusive SVOD rights from leading Hollywood studios.

In New Zealand Quikflix is already offering its SVOD service and the U.S. giant Netflix is planning to set up shop next year.

Sky advantage

Compared to Telecom, Sky enjoys the advantage of being a huge buyer of TV content and can negotiate well with Hollywood studios for linear channels like Vibe and The Box.

Telecom CEO Simon Moutter sees Lightbox as a vehicle to enter the entertainment market through the internet TV, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Streaming technology is cost effective and marks a departure from the past. There is no heavy capital outlay in buying set-top boxes. The SVOD model of streaming over the internet will only need broadband and no set-top box or in-home installation is required.

Season of Acquisitions

New Zealand is also witnessing a season of foreign acquisitions of its TV channels. American giant Discovery Communications acquired The Living Channel and Food TV in July. Discovery Communications beams its Discovery and Animal Planet in the country via the Sky TV platform. The Food TV offers programmes from celebrity chefs who include Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal and Rick Stein.

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(Photo: Reuters / Phil McCarten)
Cast members (L-R) Luke Arnold, Hannah New, creator Jonathan E. Steinberg, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Zach McGowan attend the premiere screening of the Starz series "Black Sails" in Los Angeles January 8, 2014.
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