SKY TV (New Zealand)
|Type||Public (NZX: SKT)|
|Headquarters||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Key people||John Fellet, CEO
Peter Macourt, Chairman
|Revenue||NZ$796.9 million (2011)|
|Operating income||NZ$321.7 million (2011)|
|Profit||NZ$120.3 million (2011)|
|Total assets||NZ$1.9 billion (2011)|
|Total equity||NZ$1.3 billion (2011)|
- 826,125 DBS subscribers (331,041 My Sky)
- 20,115 other subscribers
All up, Sky was in 49.2% of New Zealand homes, making it the largest pay-television platform in New Zealand.
Sky Media Limited originally formed to investigate the possibility of beaming sports programming into clubs and pubs using high performance 4 metre satellite dishes by Jarvis and an engineering associate Brian Green but was redirected into pay television following successful bidding in 1990 for four groups of UHF frequencies in the Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga regions.
The first Sky subscriber was former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Jonathan Hunt, according to Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Sky rapidly won long term rights from US sports network ESPN (which became a 1% shareholder) as well as CNN and HBO providing it with a supply of sports, news and movies for three channels: Sky Sport, Sky News (a mix of CNN International and BBC bulletins) and Sky Movies (later renamed HBO, before reverting to its original name.)
Initially only operating in the Auckland region Sky contracted Broadcast Communications to provide the broadcast service and transmission from its Panorama Road studios formerly owned by defunct broadcaster Northern Television.
Later, as funding allowed Sky extended its coverage throughout most of New Zealand, in 1994, Sky launched two further channels, Discovery and Orange. The company expanded to Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Southland and Otago, follow by the Wairarapa, Taupo and Wanganui regions in 1995. Its final UHF expansion, in 1996, was to Taranaki, Whangarei and eastern Bay of Plenty.
In April 1997, Sky introduced a nationwide analogue direct broadcasting via satellite (DBS) service over the Optus B1 satellite. The DBS services gave Sky the opportunity to offer its customers more channels and interactive options. It upgraded it to a digital service in December 1998.
The concept of a pay television service was new to New Zealand and Sky had early problems. These included viewer acceptance of subscriber television. It faced difficulty in educating retailers and customers on the use of the original decoders. However, this problem was eased with the introduction of easier-to-use decoders that allowed greater viewer flexibility.
Channels that are no longer carried by Sky TV include ITV Granada, Hallmark Channel, TVSN, HBO (renamed Sky Movies) and Property TV. A SkyMail email service was also featured for a time, but was later pulled due to lack of interest, (including the wireless keyboards they had produced for it).
Purchase of Prime Television
In November 2005, Sky announced it had purchased the free-to-air channel Prime Television for NZ$30 million. Sky uses Prime to promote its pay content and to show delayed sports coverage. New Zealand's Commerce Commission issued clearance for the purchase on 8 February 2006.
The unreliability of the ageing Optus B1 satellite was highlighted when the direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) service went offline just before 7p.m. NZST (8 a.m. London, 3 a.m. New York) on 30 March 2006. The interruption affected service to over 550,000 customers and caused many decoders to advise customers of "rain fade." Due to excessive volume of calls to the Sky toll-free helpdesk Sky posted update messages on their website advising customers that they were working with Optus to restore service by midnight. Sky credited customers with one day's subscription fees as compensation for the downtime at a cost to the company of NZ$ 1.5 million. Sky switched its DBS service to the Optus D1 satellite on 15 November 2006. It later expanded its transponder capacity on this satellite to allow for extra channels and HD broadcasts.
Sky switched off its analogue UHF TV service on 11 March 2010 at midnight.
They plan to hand their UHF and radio spectrum back to the Government and trade them for digital terrestrial bandwidth.
On 24 November 2011 Sky announced they had formed a partnership with Television New Zealand to launch a new low-cost pay television service during the first half of 2012. This is called Igloo and Sky has a 51% share in the venture. Details were announced on December 8 via a press release. Sky offers a selection of channels on a pre-pay basis.
News Corp sale
Products and services
General entertainment basic channels were extended by ten places on April 2013 with the following channels being below 30 which includes TVNZ's free-to-air TV One (four regional markets for SD), free-to-air TV2, free-to-air U and TVNZ Heartland, MediaWorks' free-to-air TV3 (four regional markets for SD) and free-to-air Four, Viacom Media Networks channels MTV and Comedy Central, NBCUniversal's E!, Prime (three regional markets), The Box, BBC UKTV, Vibe, Living, Food Television, The Shopping Channel, free-to-air Māori Television, Travel Channel and free-to-air ChoiceTV. The Arts Channel, SoHo and JONES! (from May 13) are available extra channels.
Movie packaged channels are from 30 to 39 which includes Sky Movies (new releases), Sky Movies 2 (new releases two hours timeshifted), Sky Movies Greats (modern classics), Sky Movies Classics, TCM (Time Warner classics) and Rialto (independent). Sky Box Office channels (video store releases) are available as pay-per-view from 120 to 139 with the top three channels also on 40 to 49. Adult pay-per-view movies are from 140 to 159 which includes Playboy TV, Adult Channel and Spice: Xcess.
Sporting packaged channels are from 50 to 69 which includes Sky Sport 1 to 4, Disney's ESPN, TAB TV, free-to-air Trackside, The Rugby Channel and a mosaic of channels. Sky Arena offers one off pay-per-view events.
Informational basic channels are from 70 to 69 which includes Discovery Communications' Discovery and Animal Planet, Disney's CI and History, News Corporation's National Geographic, and the BBC's BBC Knowledge.
Public service basic channels are from 80 to 85 which includes government funded free-to-air Te Reo and the Auckland regional channel FaceTV. The rural sponsored Country TV is an available extra channel.
News coverage basic channels are from 85 to 99 which includes Australia's Sky News, Time Warner's CNN, News Corporation's Fox News, BBC's BBC World News, government provided Parliament TV, NBCUniversal's CNBC, European RT and interactive Weather Channel. The French speaking France 24 is an available extra channel.
Pre-Teenage entertainment basic channels are from 100 to 109 which includes the Disney's Disney Channel and Disney Junior, Viacom Media Networks channels Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., and TVNZ Kidzone24. The interactive Playin' TV Games with MindGames puzzles are available extra channels.
Channels of an Asian origin are packaged separately from 300 to 309 which includes a group of state-run channels from China, Korea and Japan provided by World TV as well as the English speaking CCTV-9. Asian audio only radio channels are from 311 to 314 which includes Real Good Life, New Supremo and FM 104.2. The non-Asian STAR Plus Hindi, a pay TV channel from India is also available on the range from 315 to 319.
A selection of Jukebox radio channels from 400 to 499 are available with the Sky Digital Music package. With free-to-air radio from 420 to 429) which includes The Edge, Radio New Zealand National, Radio New Zealand Concert, Tahu FM and Calvary Chapel Radio.
Channels for special services (system/hidden) are from 800 to 999 which includes Supercheap in-store radio and an auxiliary backup channel.
High definition simulcasts are available to subscribers with a capable receiver via three DVB-S2 frequencies which includes 100% native content for SoHo, Sky Movies, Sky Movies Greats and ESPN. With selected native content for TV One (single regional market), TV2, TV3 (single regional market), Sky Sport 1 to 4 and Sky Arena.
Interactive services are available for SkyBet (TAB sports betting), Upgrade channel (self service package changes), Electronic Programme Guide (iEPG) (programme listing by channel), Ad Track (advertising insertion for Jukebox audio channels), a VCR SCART Input test and a iA Modem Test.
Temporary channels that are now defunct include channels for the 2012 Olympics and other sporting events such as the Olympics Mosaic, Olympic News, Sky Sport 5 (for the 2013 Australian Open), SKY Sport 6 to 8.
Digital video recorders
In December 2005, Sky released its own Digital Video Recorder (DVR), which essentially is an upgraded set top box similar to Foxtel IQ in Australia or TiVo in the U.S.. Called My Sky, it offers viewers the ability to pause live television, rewind television, record up to two channels at once straight to the set top box and watch the start of a recorded programme while still recording the end. It also gives viewers access to a revamped Guide and the new Planner, used to plan and access recordings at the touch of a button. However the PVR box remains the property of Sky Television.
One of the advertised features of My Sky is the ability of the system to record series of programs using the "Series Link" feature. But this has proven to be somewhat unreliable in that on occasions, intended future recordings are not made. This has occurred since the inception of the service. Sky TV say they are working to determine the cause of the random failures, and to rectify it. Soft rebooting the decoder appears to temporarily overcome the problem.
There was software in My Sky that after an hour of no signal from Sky then the decoder locks playback of pre-recorded programmes. This was discovered after the Optus B1 satellite was unable to broadcast Sky to over 600,000 subscribers.
This generation of box was replaced by My Sky HDi when it launched on 1 July 2008.
My Sky HDi
On 1 July 2008, a service called My Sky HDi was launched, and is the successor to the My Sky service released in 2006. The HD channels available are Sky Movies, Sky Movies Greats, SoHo, Sky Sport 1, Sky Sport 2, Sky Sport 3, ESPN as well as free-to-air channels TV One, TV2, and TV3.
The boxes allow connection of to up to four satellites which can work with its four TV tuner cards in any combination. Two channels can be recorded at once, while another can be watched live and the fourth is for a non-real time pay per view service. The device has a 320GB HDD however only 160GB is available for recording, the remaining is reserved for on-demand downloads. The quality of My Sky HDi is 576i via component and 720/1080i via HDMI.
A new feature was released exclusive to My Sky HDi on 6 July 2010 called Record Me. This feature allows subscribers to press the green button on programme advertisements to record that advertised programme.
My Sky +
On 1 July 2011, a new service called My Sky + was launched, and is the successor to the My Sky HDi service released in 2008.
It has a 1Tb hard drive which makes it capable of recording four times the amount of content than its predecessor.
As of 31 December 2011, there are 331,041 My Sky HDi and My Sky + subscribers.
Sky On Demand
Sky announced late 2006 that it will be using the 30% reserved disk space in the PVR to offer a video on demand service to its My Sky customers. This service commenced in 2007 offering 12 - 15 titles at any one time. New titles are downloaded automatically from the Optus D1 satellite to the PVR and listed only when they are available for purchase and instant playback.
In May 2009 Sky introduced copy protection on My Sky and My Sky HDi decoders limiting the ability to copy material from My Sky/My Sky HDi to DVD/HDD recorders and to PCs. TV One, Two and Three, Sky Movies, Sky Movies 2, Sky Movies Greats, MGM & TCM have a copy-once encoding meaning movies can be copied however any further copying is prevented. Sky Box Office channels, including Adult channels are copy protected so DVD/HDD recorders & PCs will not record from these channels. Other channels are not copy protected. Copy protection technology is not built into other decoders.
In August 2009 a new online service was launched where customers can log on and set their My Sky or My Sky HDi's to record programmes.
The instruction to record a programme is sent to the set-top boxes via satellite.
Sky Mobile TV
In December 2006, Sky announced that it will be launching a new mobile television service to Vodafone New Zealand's 3G customers. The channels include:
- Adult swim
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- Discovery Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney Channel
- Sky News
- Sky Sport Live
- Sky Sport News
Sky TV App
Sky has released a mobile app which works on iOS devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod Touches. The app contains an electronic program guide, remote record capabilities (for MySky HDi), Facebook & Twitter social functions and automatic programme reminders. The app has been a success, with over 50,000 downloads from the iTunes App Store in just four weeks.
Sky also provides a Skywatch monthly magazine to all its customers. The latest readership survey shows that Skywatch has a readership of 965,000 which makes it the largest magazine read in New Zealand, and the largest monthly magazine. The magazine provides monthly listings for Sky channels, as well as highlights and features.
Sky Sport The Magazine
In January 2007, Sky launched Sky Sport The Magazine, as the published extension of the Sky Sport television package. The magazine features articles by local and international sports writers, as well as sports photography.
iSky is Sky Television's online video on demand service, which launched in 2011. The service streams programmes from Sky's channels based on users' existing Sky subscriptions. There are also live streaming sports and news channels.
Sky Digital subscribers get a standard 60-centimetre satellite dish installed on their home along with set-top boxes including modems for a return path.
Sky switched from the elderly Optus B1 to the Optus D1 satellite for its DBS service on 15 November 2006. Initially, Sky used vertically polarised transponders on Optus D1 (as it had on Optus B1). However, on 31 July 2007 it moved its programming to horizontally polarised transponders with New Zealand-specific beams to be consistent with Freeview and to gain access to more transmission capacity. Sky have also purchased some of the capacity of Optus D3, which was launched mid August 2009, this gives Sky the ability to add more channels and upgrade existing channels to HD in the future. However due the LNB switching that would be required the single D3 transponder lease was later dropped in 2011.
A set-top box (STB) is used to decrypt the satellite signals. Digital broadcasts are in DVB-compliant MPEG-2 (MPEG-4 AVC for HD broadcasts). Interactive services and the EPG use the proprietary OpenTV system.
- Commerce Commission Website - Sky cleared to acquire Prime Television
- Scoop: Sky to shut down UHF network
- Eriksen, Alanah (11 July 2009). "Sky TV ready to flick its UHF switch". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
- Brand Kreft (8 December 2011). "Igloo details confirmed". Throng New Zealand. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "Murdoch to sell stake in Sky TV". 3 News NZ. March 4, 2013.
- Pullar-Stecker, Tom (2009-08-10). "Sky TV to offer Remote Record". The Dominon Post. Retrieved 11 August 2009. "Sky Television's 70,000 MySky subscribers will be able to log on to the internet to programme their set-top boxes to record programmes from Friday next week."