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Telecom offers $149 sub free - but only to new broadband customers

The tall dwarf is set to get a little taller.

Chris Keall
Thu, 04 Jul 2013

UPDATE / July 4: Telecom will provide its customers with a $149.95 subscription free - but only if their new signups to an 80GB cap or higher plan, and only if they forgo the usual first-two-months free offer.

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New customers will have to choose between the usual first month free or the free sub.

Exisiting customers will get a less-than-compelling 15% discount.

At the same time, Telecom is bumping up all customers on an $85 plan from a 50GB data plan to 80GB "for things like".  The bump is in lieu of unmetered data. Games will take about 1GB of data each, which will count towards a monthly cap.

At a launch event in Auckalnd, Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin said the UK soccer deal was part of a strategy of "value-adds" to help Telecom "become a growth company again."

The deal applies equally over ADSL (copper), UFB fibre and VDSL plans (Mr Quin added commercial VDSL launch details will be made available next week).

Coliseum Sports Media boss Tim Martin, also on hand for the launch, had some new detail on the launch in August: the site will offer 250 of the 380 games ondemand for replay viewing. (A game of the week and highlights will also appear on TVNZ under an earlier announced partnership; see below.)

Asked if he saw similar deal encompassing rugby in Telecom's future, Mr Quin said "no comment," but he did say other "value add" deals were on the way.

The current deal sees Telecom paying Coliseum for the $149.95 subs that will be given away, but Mr Quin won't comment on how much money his company will fork over for each sub.

Telecom will also try to goose interest by adding a PremiereLeaguePass its "Tech in a Sec" how-to video series, explaining how to watch the service on a smartphone or tablet, or use wi-fi to stream it to a regular television.

Asked if the deal was exclusive to Telecom, Mr Martin said "We won't do a deal with another telco."

He stressed people could still access through any ISP, only without the discount.

He added that could always discount the $140.95 service it's offering to all-comers, or although there was little room to move.

Mr Martin said Coliseum made the first approach.

It was attracted, in part, by Telecom's lock on 50% of the retail broadband market (the next largest player, Vodafone - now includingTelstraClear - has around 29% - with others grouped around the 10% and under mark).

Mr Martin told NBR he had met with Goldman Sachs analysts who had told him it would be "amazing" if signed up more than 4000 customers.

Pre-registrations are running far above that number, he said - though it remains to be seen how many will convert to payiing customer with the commercial launch from August 1.

Tall dward just got a little taller
Lawyer Michael Wigley has posited the theory that Sky TV did not bid too hard for Premier League rights; having "tall dwarfs" in the market like Coliseum and QuickFlix will help it wriggle out of the ongoing Commerce Commission investigation into whether Sky TV's content deals prevent a new market entrant from gaining critical mass. They provide the appearance of competition, but nothing to really worry the incumbent.

That may be so. But the tall dwarf Coliseum - backed by $650 million NBR Rich Lister Peter Cooper - just got a little taller.

Even getting Telecom onboard in not likely to dent Sky TV's near-monopoly, but it's aother tantilising glimpse at our TV future of more delivery options, and more competition.

Meanwhile, Sky TV shares, which fell sharply on the announcement of the Colesium deal, have partially recovered.

The pay TV broadcaster has faced a number of reminders of looming new technology threats recently, including Slingshot's new Global Mode, which allows people in New Zealand to beat geo-blocks on overseas movie, TV and movie content, and Google's experiments with high definition (HD) cricket and tennis coverage.

Now imagine if Telecom did an online deal involving rugby, and a free-to-air broadcast partner ...

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Coliseum partners with TVNZ to swipe soccer rights from Sky

Coliseum Sports Media has gone public with its plan to offer all 380 2013-14 season games of the English Premier League soccer via the internet for $149.

The new company is partnering with TVNZ, which will broadcast 38 games free-to-air, in the form of a "Match of the Week" screen on Sundays 12pm to 2pm, plus a highlight show on Monday nights.

Sky TV shares [NZX:SKT] slumped 6% on the news; not on the loss of soccer rights per se, but because the deal lays bare the threat posed by new broadband technology - and the commercial threat of a free-to-air broadcaster partnering with an online paid player to bid for major sports events, or other content in Sky's stable.

Asked if Coliseum will have a tilt at domestic rugby rights, CEO Tim Martin says, "We have no plans at this stage."

TVNZ's involvement caught media on the hop - and also Sky TV, TVNZ's partner in the slow-selling igloo.

Sky TV corporate communications manager Kirsty Way confirmed to NBR Online, "We were not aware about TVNZ."

 "The next igloo board meeting would be an interesting place to be fly on wall," a Sky TV insider tells NBR.

Ms Way says it's simply business as usual. "Sky and FTAs [free-to-airs] are often in negotiation for the same content. Sky TV is looking to boost its own online streamng and ondemand capability with a pending MySky decoder upgrade that will integrate iSky, making it easier to watch broadband-delivered content on a regular TV.

Via, Coliseum will offer live games, plus on-demand viewing. Games can be watched on a PC or Mac, or on a smartphone or tablet via Android, iPhone and iPad apps. The iPad app will allow a game to be streamed to a regular television, at least for those who have an $159 Apple TV wi-fi box attached. Direct support for Apple TV may be added. The website will also offers how-tos for using wi-fi to display PremierLeaguePass content on most TVs.

Mr Martin confirmed the startup has nothing to do with Craig Heatley. Mr Martin says he was aware the Sky TV co-founder was working on a project in a similar space, but speculated it could be "US focused". Coliseum's largest shareholder is California-based Kiwi property developer and $650 million NBR Rich Lister Peter Cooper, whose Cooper Capital Partners holds a 50% stake.

In broadcasting terms, "TVNZ is our main partner," Mr Martin says. He will not reveal partnership terms, or how much was paid to outbid the incumbent Sky TV for Premier League rights, or whether co-broadcaster TVNZ chipped in.

He also confirmed speculation Coliseum will partner with phone companies to stream games to cellphones and tablets on the go.

NBR understands Telecom is edging toward a distribution deal. Mr Martin says he is looking to sign deals with all three mobile phone players. Mobile data caps are likely to loom as an issue.

In terms of technology, is not trying to reinvent the wheel.

Coliseum is partnering with New York-based NeuLion, and will be using apps developed by the US company for the NFL and NBA. NeuLion's system supports frills like live pause and rewind. Its adaptive streaming offers either high definition (HD), standard definition or a lower resolution picture for slower broadband connections.

Another US company, Akamai, has been tapped for's content delivery network (Akamai recently won Sky TV's business from Kordia. Sky cited performance gains, but unmetered data will be lost in the transition).

Mr Martin - a former ad man - says he sees two or three advertisements running before kick-off for each game - "which is just dead time for us". But the company would draw most of its revenue from subscriptions.

Beyond the $149 season pass, it will offer a $24.90 day pass and a $239.90 pass that will add "magazine-style content". Many subscribers will also face the cost of upgrading to an internet plan with a larger data cap.

Mr Martin says he wanted to offer a season pass for specific teams, but Premier League broadcast rules forbid the option. is taking registrations now; the new season starts on August 17.

Chris Keall
Thu, 04 Jul 2013
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Telecom offers $149 sub free - but only to new broadband customers