Slowly and surely the content bundle that has served broadcasters so well for so long is being dismantled as new online options come on stream.
Spark has announced that its sports offering - unsurprisingly called Spark Sport - will launch next month with initial pricing at $19.99 a month. It's starts with a free month trial, and the company is calling it a 'beta' launch so that it can "obtain feedback from kiwis".
It's a kind of dress rehearsal before the main event, the Rugby World Cup later in the year. There is also a safety net in the form of TVNZ DUKE, the traditional broadcast channel that will simulcast one of the first offering from Spark Sport, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Moving live sports to online streaming is not for the faint hearted but delivering content via fibre broadband services is most definitely the future. By 2022, 87% of the population will have access to Ultra Fast Broadband services, and up to 99.8% will be able to access broadband services as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative.
Freeview has launched a new service that enables consumers to switch between "broadcast TV" and online content. All consumers need is a TV, HDMI port, internet connection (fibre preferred, but copper will do), a broadband plan (unlimited data plan recommended, but you can be with any ISP) and a $139 Dish TV SmartVU X device that is available from electronics stores.
Currently Lightbox, Netflix, Stuff Pix, YouTube and Google Play are the "online content" options available but no doubt Freeview is keen to extend the service - to carrying the Rugby World Cup, and also to run SKY TV's online offering Neon and FanPass.
Which means that consumers are able to mix and match offerings - they could combine Netflix ($11.49) and Spark Sport ($19.99) and pay $31.48 a month, for example. That's quite a shift from the way we are used to accessing content, with SKY TV being a master of the bundle. For the traditional service, premium content such as Sky Sport costs $31.99 (from 1 April) a month, but first you have buy the Sky Starter pack for $22.99 (from 1 April) a month.
This isn't like-for-like pricing as Spark Sport doesn't have the content (even with the Rugby World Cup) that SKY Sport does. But it's surely a sign of things to come that consumers can begin to access and pay only for the content they want, rather than have to scroll through a bunch of channels they were forced to sign up to, just to get to the programming they like.
It does mean that more is required of consumers - where before they have paid one provider, now they may pay many. Even more onerous can be working out the tech involved to connect all this content together. Which is why Freeview's streaming platform has launched at the right time. It is this kind of offering - bringing all the content to one remote - which will enable the move away from the bundle and towards greater content choices.
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