Igloo boss quits

Chaz Savage

Igloo boss Chaz Savage has left to take a job with Telstra in Australia.

A spokeswoman for Sky TV said she couldn't comment on sales for igloo - a low-cost pay TV joint venture between Sky TV (51%) and TVNZ (49%).

Igloo launched just before Christmas after more than six months of delays.

Mr Savage will become general manager for Telstra's T-Box set-top box, which falls under a new media division managed by ex-TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis.

Mr Ellis was head of TVNZ at the time it signed its igloo deal with Sky TV and Mr Savage (drawn from Sky TV's marketing department) was appointed to run the joint venture.

On social media, potential customers have asked about igloo's recording functionality (there is none, beyond a half-hour live-pause. NBR's theory is Sky TV wants to upsell people to its own MySky. Igloo is engineered to be just good enough to coopt potential rival TVNZ).

Others have asked for more detail on the promise to occassionally screen All Blacks games on pay per view. Igloo has been mum on specifics.

FLASHBACK: Savage with Sky TV CEO John Fellet (centre) and then TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis at the December 2011 igloo announcement. The service launched on December 3 last year.

With Sky TV refusing to give numbers, and a low key retail presence for the $199 set-top box needed for the $24.99/month prepay service, some will wonder whether igloo has set the world alight (and usually there's only one reason to shuffle your feet when asked about sales) - but Mr Savage has obviously done something to impress his new employer across the Tasman (although an arch conspiracy theorist would Telstra also has limited ambition for its slow-moving T-Box, given the telco’s shareholding in Foxtel.)

Analysts don't see igloo having a material impact on Sky TV in the near-term.

Forsyth Barr told NBR it was a cost-effective way for Sky TV to target lower-spending consumers. The pay TV broadcaster was requiring customers to pay for an igloo box upfront; it was drawing on a subset of existing Sky TV channels for premium content (an igloo box can also be used to access free-to-air-channels if your prepay runs out), and utilising UHF spectrum it already owned.

Sky TV has chipped $12.75 million into the venture; TVNZ $12.25 million. Most of the money has gone toward the cost of ordering settop boxes.


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5 Comments & Questions

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Nice work TVNZ. You managed to use taxpayers' money to put up half the capital for a loss-making business which blocks the prospect of any real competition for Sky.

The only consolation is they are a sunset business. If I was Sky or TVNZ, I'd be looking at NZ Post's downsizing and seeing a glimpse of the future.

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You are so right. Between this and TIVO TVNZ yet again show what delusional fools they are and, in this case, how cunning Sky is to get them to foot half the cost. Free to Air is dying as the kids can get it all online quicker. PAY at least has live sport and can afford to run niche channels as it doesn't need advertising to survive.

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How has the BBC managed to reinvent itself so well?

But yes, TVNZ completely messed up a reasonable opportunity with TiVo, and have likely stumbled again with Igloo.

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Pay TV doesn't need advertising? Then why does it have so much of it? Sky's really no better than TVNZ, but at least that's free. My Freeview recorder ensures I don't have to endure ads and there's always more on it than I have time to watch, some of it quite good (but poorer without 7).

But you're right that TVNZ have made a spectacular doggy dodo of the whole grab bag.

BBC has thrived because it has a meaningful charter which allows it to do pretty much anything it wants, as long as it informs, educates and entertains (note: and, not or).

Also, it's protected from meddlesome, ignorant politicians by a broadcasting fee. At £145 a year, it's about the same or cheaper than Sky here. But the charter ensures quality and innovation, which sadly, NZ completely failed in.

National removed the broadcasting fee in 1999, in its last gasp before losing an election.

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I said that igloo would not sell many units and looks like I was dead right its Tivo all over again what a waste of money. Maybe the money would have been better spent keeping TVNZ 7 on air

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