Sky TV hints at big changes to plans, cut-price broadband

Sky TV plans could be in for a big shake-up, with keener pricing and more pick-and-mix choice – and its pending internet service could be very cheap, if you sign up to enough channels.

You could also get the option to bundle apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Spark Sport at discount rates, if you sign up for 12 months.

Those possibilities are all raised in the latest round of questions put to the pay-TV broadcaster’s Sky Nation panel.

Sky external relations director Chris Major said the latest questions were part of an ongoing process to get customer feedback on possible changes.

“We’re getting excellent engagement from our Sky Nation panel and will spend some time assessing the feedback,” Major said.

Sky chief executive Martin Stewart has already confirmed his company will offer Ultrafast Fibre (UFB) broadband next year, in partnership with Chorus – making Sky a one-stop-shop for internet and content.

The survey asks for feedback on Sky Broadband priced from $60 per month to $100 per month, one respondent tells the Herald – with the price of your internet getting lower the more Sky channels (or apps) you commit to.

Major said a wide range of options was being canvassed, so people should not read too much into any particular price mentioned in the survey.

It also says Sky could eliminate its $25.99/month Starter Pack, which is currently a compulsory purchase for whose who want to buy another bundle like Sky Sport or Sky Entertainment.

Another change is that MySky recording (currently charged at $15 per month) is included “free” with the various proposed new packages.

The survey raises the possibility of more build-your-own package pick-and-mix options – but the proposed new plans are cheapest if you buy in bundles, and the more bundles, the bigger the discounts.

Sky Sport, for example, is pitched at $49 per month, including MySky recording, compared to the current cost of $57.98 per month ($31.99 for Sky Sport plus $25.99 for the compulsory Sky Starter).

Sky Movies is mooted at $30/month, again with the option to buy it standalone (currently it costs $46.92 per month, including Sky Starter).

Sky Entertainment is pitched at $55 per month, but with Netflix (which costs from $11.99 per month standalone) included – against the current $46.92 including Starter.

The survey also offered the Spark Sport app – usually $24.99 after a $5 price rise coinciding with Spark streaming domestic cricket – at a discount, for those who commit to 12 months.

Spark did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sky TV boss Stewart early said he was open to partnering with all-comers, including Spark.

Although the two companies spar on some levels – and Sky is on the verge of an incursion onto Spark’s home turn with its internet service – they have also displayed a degree of pragmatism behind the scenes at times.

At one point Spark offered Sky’s Fanpass app (now Sky Sport Now) to its customers at a discount rate under a wholesale deal. Sky supplied a Spark Sport channel for pub and club customers during the 2019 Rugby World Cup to help the telco to quickly resolve hassles with commercial customers; and the pair agreed a mutually wholesale deal after Sky bought Lightbox from Spark.

An earlier Sky survey asked for customer views on a new, $199 4K Android box, which would carry all of Sky’s channels plus allow customers to install the apps of their choice.

If Stewart does get a Spark Sport bundle with Sky over the line it will give Sky a point of difference with Vodafone NZ’s Vodafone TV service, which is similar to Stewart’s proposed “next generation” box and service, but comes with a “pre-installed” set of apps that does not include Spark Sport.

Sky recently delivered a challenging result, with write-downs pushing it to a loss but the company is forecasting a return to profit in 2021.

Its total number of subscribers grew as its Neon, RugbyPass and Sky Sport Now streaming services grew faster than Sky’s traditional satellite business declined.

But the average streaming customer only spent a quarter as much as the average satellite customer per month, pushing revenue down overall.

Vodafone welcomes broadband competition from Sky, tweaks billing

With its pending internet service, Sky will be competing with its one-time merger partner Vodafone for broadband customers.

“We welcome Sky to the highly competitive world of broadband,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.

“We continue to value our strategic partnership with Sky and are confident in the value the partnership provides for our customers.”

Some billing tweaks are on the way, however.

“Vodafone and Sky enjoy a strong long-standing relationship resulting in many collaborations such as giving Vodafone customers the opportunity to be billed for their Sky TV services through their Vodafone bill alongside their Vodafone services,” the Vodafone spokesperson said.

“However, as a part of Vodafone’s drive to simplify its product and service offering, from later this year those customers using a MySky decoder will be billed direct from Sky.

“We have communicated this billing change to all affected customers and this does not change the benefits that our customers receive through our partnership with Sky.

“Our VodafoneTV customers can continue to enjoy Sky TV services through the VodafoneTV box including VodafoneTV’s cloud recording and three-day rewind functions at no extra charge.”

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