Sky hikes price of sports and Neon

Sky TV says it has faced increased costs and is offering more content. Photo: NZ Herald
Sky TV says it has faced increased costs and is offering more content. Photo: NZ Herald
Sky TV has announced another range of price hikes for entertainment and sports content - some just months after an increase - and revealed adverts are coming to its previously ad-free Neon.

The broadcaster says it has faced increased costs and is offering more content.

The cost of Sky Sport will rise 11 per cent from $37.99 to $42.00 from February 1 next year. 

For streamers, the price of a Sky Sport Now Month Pass will go up by the same percentage as it increases from $44.99 to $49.99 per month, also from February 1.

It was only in March when customers saw the last round of sports price increases when the cost of Sky Sport rose by $3 per month and its Sky Sport Now streaming app went up by $5 per month.

“Rights inflation” was blamed for the increases. The broadcaster also cited that it was offering more content including English Premier League and Formula 1 rights seized back from the soon-to-be-extinct Spark Sport. Sky stuck by those two arguments this morning.

It also argues that many punters are better off because they no longer have to buy Spark Sport as well. Cricket and a lot of other Spark content went to Television New Zealand mid-year as as the telco’s streaming service was wound down - although Spark sold European football rights to the $14.99 a month beIN Sports in a side deal.

Neon price increases, ads

The broadcaster is also hiking the price of a standard plan to its Neon streaming service by 11 per cent from $17.99 to $19.99 per month from January 11.

A standard annual plan will increase by the same percentage, rising from $179.99 to $199.99 in the new year.

The cost of a basic Neon plan will be held at $12.99 but, from January 11, viewers will see ads before content streams, or when it is paused - while those on standard and annual plans will see ads when they pause content.

Sky says there will be no ads during kids' shows.

Streaming rivals Disney+ and Netflix have recently introduced ads on basic plans, but neither has so far announced any plans to bring the option to NZ (Netflix Basic With Ads has reached as close as Australia, where it costs A$6.99 per month). Netflix pricing in NZ spans from $12.99/month for one device to $24.99 for four devices.

Disney+, which launched in New Zealand in 2019 for $9.99, increased its pricing to $14.99 per month in December last year.

Amazon’s Prime Video remains the pick-of-the-bunch in cost terms at $6.99 - a price that hasn’t budged since it launched in NZ in 2016.

Sky TV chief executive Sophie Moloney has recently talked-up the introduction of digital advertising on Neon as “an important development along our strategic pathway to provide innovative solutions for our partners and clients to meet our 2024 priority of developing new revenue streams”.

Today, a Sky spokeswoman said there would also be new perks, with Neon Basic subscribers getting HD (high definition) content and support for two screens.

Other earlier rises

In June, as rival Spark Sport entered its final month, Sky announced that a Sky Sport Now Annual Pass would increase 12.5 per cent from $399.99 to $449.99.

At the time, Sky said Spark Sport’s demise was coincidental. “The cost to acquire sports rights and produce quality content continues to increase,” a spokeswoman said.

In April 2021, Sky increased the cost of its Neon streaming service by 15 per cent to $15.99 a month.

July 2022 saw the price of Neon raised to $17.99 a month.

Statistics NZ says inflation was running at 5.6 per cent in the year to September.

Sky shares were recently trading at $2.72. The stock is up 18.8 per cent of the year with the return of its profit payout to shareholders, and streaming gains that have outpaced satellite service losses.