Sky TV, facing down Telecom's Lightbox, renews exclusive deal with HBO

There be Dragons

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

UPDATE Aug 1: A rep for Telcom says the company expects Lightbox to launch at the end of August. Sky TV CEO John Fellet says there is no update on a launch date for his company's Netflix-style service beyond "before the end of this year."

July 31: This just in from Sky TV: the pay TV broadcaster has just renewed a multi-year, exclusive deal with HBO — creator of Game of Thrones and many of the other crown jewels of telly people are willing to pay for.

The release is a spoiler for Telecom's Lightbox update, on now.

Sky plans its own Netflix-style service, and today said its lineup would include HBO shows — though the proof of the pudding will be in whether it makes them available for those paying $15 (or so) for its Netflix-style service at the same time as its traditional subscribers.

Sky keeping HBO exclusive, and Telecom not even making a bid for sports, is a reflection in the mis-match in firepower at this early stage in the streaming video ondemand (SVOD) game.

Last year, Sky TV spent $666 million, $289 million of that on programming. Telecom's launch-year budget for Lightbox is $20 million.

The deal also positions Sky TV better against Netflix, the US-based king of SVOD that's rumoured to be launching in Australia and NZ early next year. HBO recently fall out with Netfilx, and will now instead shuffle shows to rival SVOD services including Hulu.

At a media briefing today, Telecom (soon to be Spark) demo'd a working version of Lightbox, indicating a launch is close for the $15 a month service (Sky has yet to reveal a date).

The company also named 20 new shows for Lightbox, including content from HBO rival Showtime content. The shows included Homeland; Breaking Bad,Masters of Sex and Orange is the New Black.

Telecom also announced today that Kym Niblock has been made managing director of Lightbox.  Ms Niblock has formerly held roles at Foxtel (where she was general manager of emerging platforms and intenet TV), BBC Worldwide, BSkyB and Nickelodeon. She will report to Rod Snodgrass, the head of Telecom Digital Ventures.

Sky TV and Telecom face multiple competitors in the market for streaming TV shows and movies over the intenet (and zinging them to a regular TV via wi-fi). Quickflix, Microsoft, Sony and Google (via YouTube and Play) are also in the market.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


RAW DATA: Sky TV release

SKY RENEWS EXCLUSIVE CONTENT DEAL WITH HBO

SKY is delighted to confirm that premium entertainment channel SoHo will continue to be ‘The Home of HBO’ in New Zealand following the renewal of an exclusive output deal with ground-breaking American content provider Home Box Office (HBO) giving Kiwis access to the hottest television content on the planet.

The multi-year, multi-platform deal also includes Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) rights for an exclusive collection of select HBO titles, meaning New Zealand fans of series such as Game of Thrones, The Wire and Girls will have their favourite shows at their fingertips when SKY TV launches its new SVOD service later this year.

SKY’s Director of Entertainment Content, Travis Dunbar, says the exclusive deal with HBO forms the backbone of SoHo, a channel that has been embraced by lovers of quality television since its launch over two years ago.

“As ‘The Home of HBO’, SoHo is dedicated to offering customers the best possible experience by fast-tracking HBO’s ground-breaking series, cross-promoting and marketing them with genuine care, and continuing to invest domestically in the HBO and SoHo brands.

“It didn’t seem that long ago that HBO shows were relegated to late night slots and shamelessly delayed on Network TV. I believe that HBO have recognised they have a partner in this market as obsessed with their great shows as they are and it’s terrific to further extend our working relationship with them,” said Mr Dunbar.

Jennifer Bowen, HBO’s Senior Vice President, International Distribution says the care and commitment SKY has shown to HBO content on its premium entertainment channel SoHo is at the highest level of their global partners.

“Our partnership with SKY and SoHo is one we are incredibly proud of.  They treat their viewers intelligently and take great pride in ensuring our product is well looked after. We are excited to be extending our relationship to include an exclusive collection of SVOD rights for New Zealand as we know they will show the same care and consideration for their on demand service subscribers as they currently do for SoHo customers,” she said.

AT A GLANCE:

·         Exclusive content deal with Home Box Office (HBO) sees extension of multi-year, multi-platform deal with SKY as the Home of HBO in New Zealand.

·         An exclusive collection of select HBO titles will be available on SKY’s Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) service to be launched in 2014, including shows like Game of Thrones, Girls, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Banshee (starring NZ’s own Antony Starr), The Wire and The Sopranos.

 

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