Great value sports weekend

What a great sport weekend.

I used to grizzle about the amount Sky insisted I pay for sports – actually not so much the sports but what they demanded you get and pay for that wasn’t sport and I didn’t want. And their streaming option was limited, poor value and technically poor. I kept cancelling my subscription between the seasons of things I particularly wanted to watch

Last year they improved their offerings somewhat, meaning I could get sport for $55 per month, $12-13 per week, not much more than half what they had previously charged.  On an average week I think this is reasonable value.

This weekend the value was very good, especially with a number of great results.

Of course for me Otago winning the Ranfurly Shield was a highlight.

Then I watched some of the women’s league test between New Zealand and Australia and the standard of play was impressive. Unfortunately a close loss.

Last night seeing a very different Kiwi league team impressively outplay the Kangaroos was great.  I hope they can keep up the standard.

This afternoon the Silver Ferns beat Australia, outplaying them also very impressively. This is a very different team to the disappointing one of the past year or two.

And I managed to also see some of the Breakers beat last year’s NRL champions Melbourne, with a bit of an eye on Southland losing again to finish their season winless.

I also fitted in some golf, with both the PGA and LPGA on yesterday (but weirdly the final day of the LPGA was not on today).

I even managed to some work outside. I’m not much good with a golf stick but not bad with a chain saw and slasher.

And I also watched some free streaming, seeing two games of the Roller Derby finals weekend (not great results for the Gallow Lasses though).

So some excellent surprise results and plenty of variety. Very good value.

Sky pisses down on Fans

Sky seems to have upset a lot of people today when they advised customers that they were making ludicrous changes to their Fan Pass sports streaming service.

After 24 May:

  • No Day Pass (currently $14.99)
  • No Week Fan Pass (currently $19.99)
  • Month Pass goes from $55.99 to $99.99

We wanted to let you know about some changes we’re making to the passes available on Fan Pass.

We wanted Fan Pass to give Kiwis the freedom to dip in and out of sport by offering short-term flexible passes. However, sports rights aren’t cheap and it’s just not stacking up for us as much as we’ve tried to make it work. So we’ve had to make the following changes which will affect you:

– From 24th May, you’ll no longer be able to get a Day or Week pass on Fan Pass.

– The cost of the Month pass will increase from $55.99 per month to $99.99 per month from 24th May.

I have used the day and week passes, although sparingly because I thought the prices were a bit steep. If the day pass was under $10 I would have used it a lot more.

But instead of reducing prices Sky is ditching the short passes and putting the Month Pass up to a ridiculous price – they are charging more for four channels of streamed sport for more than they charge for all of their sports channels plus all of their ‘basic channels’ (there must be fifty or more).

– We’ll be introducing a 6 Month pass which will be a one-off payment of $329.99. It’s a big payment upfront but it still works out as less than $2 a day which is pretty good value. That could give you the entire All Blacks Season from kick off to the final whistle.

That’s extraordinary. I presume they are trying to stop their subscriptions from being ditched, and are trying to get ex-subscribers back on board:

If none of these changes are your cup of tea, SKY have got an offer where you can join SKY with no joining fee and get a $150 account credit on a 6 month Basic contract.

But going by reactions on social media – and my thoughts – they are annoying and losing more customers.

The changes don’t come into effect for nearly three weeks – the timing is suspiciously aimed at the Lions tour but I’m not going to spend $100 a month just to watch those games.

I have a dilemma tonight. I was going to get a Day Pass to watch the Hurricanes tonight, the league test and the Highlanders in the morning, but I’m inclined not to give Sky my business in advance of their self destructive changes.

NBR covers this (not paywalled): Sky hikes Fanpass pricing, narrows options


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Sky and Vodaphone

The Commerce Commission has turned down an application for Sky and Vodaphone to merge. I think that is a good move – giving preferential treatment to one service provider in order to get sport on TV would not be a good thing.

Sky will now have to look at modernising their thinking. It is ridiculous to force subscribers to pay for a lot of crap just so they can watch a few games of rugby.

Their pay-per-day Fan Pass is too expensive, although you can watch the Chiefs versus the Highlanders today for a special price of $5.0o – I’d watch quite a bit at that price but their usual $14.95 is a deterrence.

Sky need to make major changes or they will drop the ball they are already fumbling.

Another media merger

A major shake up of media and communications in New Zealand builds as Sky TV and Vodaphone announce plans to merge. This follows proposals to merge NZME and Fairfax.

Fran O’Sullivan writes: Media marriages leave rest looking for partners

Yesterday, Sky TV and Vodafone painted their merger proposal as a “strategic partnership of equals”.

The concept was remarkably similar to that used by NZME and Fairfax when they unveiled their plan last month.

Except the commercial bogeymen differ: Google and Facebook are the disruptors changing the game for the publishers. When it comes to NZ’s pay TV operator (and its telco partner) Netflix is a key threat.

She says it won’t be business as usual in a rapidly evolving media market.

Yesterday, it was “business as usual” at Spark NZ as it pushed the line that the Vodafone/Sky TV move simply formalised and deepened that existing partnership.

It won’t be BAU – the rapid changing media and telco environment makes that concept an absurdity and convergence a reality. What is clear is the two proposed media marriages lessen the merger options for remaining players.

Clearly, MediaWorks’ is in play. But it would be naive to think that the chess board has not also changed for TVNZ and RNZ.

MediaWorks has had ongoing problems. Options are limited for TVNZ and RNZ as they are state owned.

New Zealand media companies are finding the competition tough, with strong competition for paid content and advertising from international companies.

If allowed to merge it will be a major change for both Sky and Vodaphone. Sky in particular will have to change what they offer and how they offer it significantly to stem a loss of customers.

I dumped my Sky subscription a year ago, sick of paying so much when I didn’t want most of the content they insisted I have in order to get what I wanted.

Later in the year they offered a special half price deal for 12 months, which I took up.

This reminded me that the majority of Sky channels were of little or no interest to me. I don’t want to pay for things I don’t want. So if Sky try to get me to continue on an exorbitant subscription for that I’ll opt out again.

There are now many options for broadcast and streamed entertainment and news. I’m not going to commit to a bunch of ongoing subscriptions. I want to pick what I want – I’m happy to pay for that.

Sky has chosen to restructure their business model. They will also have to restructure their marketing model if they want to stem the losses of their share of the market.

Dumping ODT and Sky

Our household has been considering dumping ODT and Sky subscriptions and we have just decided to do that. This will save us over a thousand dollars a year, sort of (depending on what we spend on alternatives instead).

I’m a bit nostalgic about the ODT, having read it often cover to cover for fifty years. But I find that these days I hardly bother reading it. Too busy online, and most of it’s content plus much much more is readily available online anyway. So one phone call and that’s the end of the ODT. All we have to do is find an alternative source of fire starting fuel.

Sky was a different decision. I’m very keen on sport. But the problem with Sky Sport is you have to pay for a whole lot of other crap to be able to get it. That has annoyed me for a long time.

We used to get Rialto but dropped that to reduce Sky costs and because the movie offerings had become very disappointing, there was rarely a decent movie available at a time that suited.

We also used to get the Sky guide which was kinda useful and I don’t like Sky’s online channel guide but dropped that too to reduce the Sky costs. A little.

But it has still been costing $74.75 a month, which is close to $900 a year. For:

  • Some good stuff.
  • A lot of crap.
  • Far too many channels we don’t watch.
  • Too much advertising.
  • Too much self promotional interruptions.
  • A heap of repeats.
  • A lot of crap.
  • Too little choice to just pay for what we’re interested in.
  • And you have to pay even more to get the rugby channel.
  • And you have to pay even more to get decent quality HD.

Unlike ODT you can’t just drop your subscription. You have to give a month’s notice. Why? I have no idea, unless it’s to force you to pay another $75 you don’t want to spend. What this does is deter us from resubscribing for short term things of interest because you have to commit to time you may not want or need.

So early next month we will no longer have Sky.

What will we do without the ODT and SKY. Plenty. We already have the Internet so will stream more. And browse more for exactly what we want, when we want it.

And we have decided to invest in a Samsung Smart TV. This is $1100 up front but we’ll get something for the old TV. And it saves us buying another PC as it is effectively a large screen computer with WiFi and Freeview decoder. So we will have free-to-air channels plus anything from the growing number of online services we want.

Proper choice, unlike the Sky way of forcing crap onto you that you don’t want. Sky charges $48 a month for the crap channels you mostly don’t want before you can get a look in at the ones you want.

And in making these changes we have left the past and joined the future of media information and entertainment. Choice.

With the lost of sports channels we will miss a few games. And go and watch it live a bit more. Or go out to the pub and watch it. Instead of being trapped in a dinosaur TV bubble at home.

Choice of what you watch and choice of when you watch it. And choice of what you want to pay for.

Does Sky have anything like this? I checked their website and they list Sky on Demand. But:

SkyOnDemandThey could get with the future and give me choice at a reasonable cost. Or they could be too late. I didn’t click BACK TO SKY. Too busy on the Internet.