Mike McMahon, chief technology officer for the new online
TV network Lightbox. Photo: NZ Herald/Dean Purcell
New Zealanders now have more television viewing options
at lower prices, as internet TV services start and existing
platforms react to protect their territory.
Telecom's internet television venture, Lightbox, was launched
in beta (testing) mode yesterday, offering a raft of
high-profile on-demand shows for $15 a month.
Due to have 5000 hours of fully operational content by the
month's end, Lightbox gives "all you can eat" access to its
content on up to five devices and named hit shows Arrested
Development, Outlander and Mad Men among its "exclusive"
The service is tipped to challenge existing pay-television
service Sky TV and provide an alternative for Kiwis who
access overseas services such as Netflix and Hulu through
Lightbox's managing director Kym Niblock said the service's
pricing set it apart from Sky, while its content and design
distinguished it from online alternatives.
"You don't pay any installation, all you need to do is
download it on to your tablet. The pricing structure is
really different, it's $15 for all you can eat. I am not sure
how much $15 gets you on Sky.
"People can know that this is safe and it's legal and has
things that aren't on Netflix."
It also promised to deliver exclusive local content - though
details were yet to be announced - and movies, she said.
Sky TV, which starts at close to $50 a month for its most
basic package, plus installation costs, yesterday announced
it had renewed its exclusive content deal with HBO, which
allows it to screen shows such as Game of Thrones and Girls
on its premium SoHo channel.
Select HBO titles would be available on a new internet
on-demand subscription service which Sky plans to launch this
A spokeswoman said its product and content differed from
Lightbox's, and did not think customers were left wanting.
"We don't think Sky customers will substitute Sky for a SVOD
[subscription video on demand] service, it's a very different
Sky was offering a range of special, cut-price deals for new
subscribers - and planned to reward existing customers later
in the year.
"Sky customers will be offered a huge selection of on-demand
content through their internet connected MySky later this
year ... at no extra cost. They won't need an SVOD service as
Tech commentator Ben Gracewood said Lightbox was likely to
deter people from sourcing overseas internet television
products through backdoor methods.
Sky's sport offerings would remain an undeniable drawcard, he
Internet service provider Slingshot allows its New Zealand
customers to subscribe to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix US and
BBC iPlayer, which cost about $10 a month.
Internet NZ work programme director Andrew Cushen said
Lightbox introduced consumers to a new way of using the
"It looks like a very different service. "
While Lightbox remained tight-lipped about its plans for
local content, NZ On Air believed the service was not funding
"Lightbox is not commissioning new local content to our
knowledge. If they were, we would welcome them as new
investment sources," NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson
TVNZ said while it was focused on its free-to-view service,
it was also "keeping an open mind" about paid-content in the
"We have an established offering that pulls in more than 5
million views per month. It's the market leader and its free
of charge," a spokeswoman said.
TV3 owner MediaWorks said the Lightbox service would not
impact on its television broadcast rights.
More people watched its shows on television than online, a
"When it comes to television, on-air viewing dwarfs online
The company's video-on-demand service, 3NOW, was free and
continued "to go from strength to strength", she said.