OPINION: Sky TV scores epic own goal in bungled upgrade

[UPDATE: Sky’s Kirsty Way advises that satellite delivery of movie content still exists, but concedes it may be harder to find in the new user interface. They will be talking to their helpdesk team to communicate a solution instead of saying satellite download has gone for on demand. “Under the On Demand menu is a section called ‘BOX OFFICE’ all of the movies under here are pay per view. They are already pre downloaded to the customer set top box over the satellite. They do not use the customer’s home internet and wont effect data.”

By Ian Wishart

New Zealand’s Sky Television has been rolling out a technical upgrade of its network to help it compete with internet-based streaming services like Lightbox and Netflix, but in doing so it may have sown the seeds of its own demise.

Up to now, Sky’s point of difference has been its ability to offer movies on demand through near-instantaneous satellite transmission to subscribers – the point and play distribution model.

The first attempt to assail that was the American TiVO box launched in a TVNZ/Spark joint venture six years ago. TiVO was good, but it delivered movies via internet download and was as slow as a wet week. Sky laughed all the way to the bank.

Now, the Sky upgrade has seen its point and play advantage dropped, as it moves from satellite to full internet distribution. Now I can play Tchaikovsky’s complete 1812 in the time it takes for a movie to download. Not only that, but I have to go through about eight more button presses and screens than I used to.

Silly, silly, silly. Sky should have kept its on demand movies on satellite, while offering the rest of its content via broadband. But by putting all its eggs in the internet basket Sky has lost its one remaining competitive advantage – instant content delivery.

It had the satellite there for mercy’s sake, why didn’t it offer more content over satellite? It would have kept its lead.

Sure, Sky now saves money by pushing the cost of delivery onto subscribers digging into their own data allowance, but more annoyingly I don’t want to wait 20 minutes for a movie to download. If I did, I would still be using TiVO.

No, the one thing that made me a loyal Sky customer was point and play, instant gratification.

Now that’s gone and Sky is just another competitor for the leisure dollar, maybe I’ll actually start looking at what its rivals are offering. I couldn’t be bothered before, but now I am motivated. If I was a Sky shareholder, right about now I’d be dusting off the portfolio and calling my broker.

I know the Sky helpdesk is denying any customer gripes – “you’re the first complaint I’ve had!” but on talkback the disgruntled customer voices can be heard.

The question is, will anyone at Sky listen and, if not, can the last person to leave turn out the lights?

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8 Comments

  1. Sky has never had a “genuine” on demand service via satellite for the reasons in my first comment. “Box Office” has always been scheduled

  2. Yeah, nah, yeah, nah, nah.

    Those are not “On Demand”, they are scheduled play which you have to wait to roll around. Besides which, I’ve already had an extensive conversation with the Help Desk who assured me the genuine satellite ‘on demand’ service was now only avail through internet download.

  3. Again, yeah, nah. The alternative was to keep Box Office on demand on satellite as they have always done, and roll out other content over broadband. At least some content would therefore be instant. They chose not to do that.

  4. It’s technically impossible to deliver a large on demand catalogue via satellite. That’s why there is only a handful of Sky box office channels, the satellite does not have the capacity. How about doing a bit more investigation on the technologies you’re trying to talk about before publishing such tripe? Sure Sky has its issues, but if you’re gonna jump on the bandwagon and have a go, at least get your facts right!

  5. Yeah, nah. The whole point is that if people are paying a premium price for Sky it should deliver a premium service, but it no longer is. The upgrade is unwieldy and slow. Sky is in my view no longer worth the premium price. Which, again, is fundamental to my article.

  6. “Up to now, Sky’s point of difference has been its ability to offer movies on demand through near-instantaneous satellite transmission to subscribers – the point and play distribution model.”

    You completely ignore it’s 300 % price difference.

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