Prospects are still live for closer links between Freeview and Lightbox. TVNZ is still looking at taking a bigger stake in Freeview and part of that might see closer ties with the Spark owned pay tv platform, I am told by industry players.
One ndustry source suggested a tie up between TVNZ and Spark might not involve an equity stake. But the relationship might entail something as simple as having a Lightbox App on the Freeview platform to allow easy movement across platforms. Spark has declined to discuss plans to increase its media arm, but in my opinion Spark would make a good partner for free to air TV.
It has expertise in distribution but not content. Both free to air and Spark need to bulk up if they are to succeed.
Spark plans to expand its media arm will be built around the Commerce Commission and the merger of Vodafone and Sky TV, A decision is expected within weeks.Spark made submissions last that convinced ComCom that there was a danger of further damage the wholesale market for buying programming. Vodafone is currently a big player in the mobile phone market and mobile phones are likely to become a bigger distribution channel for TV content.
That is especially true for sports rights, where Sky TV is dominant. Initially last year ComCom approval for the Vodafone-Sky merger was seen as a fait accompli. But as with the Fairfax NZME merger, Com Com ended the year looking toward the dangers for consumers of less competition. Both the Fairfax-NZME and Vodafone-Sky mergers are up in the air.
Given the high level of pay TV competition – including the appeal of Netflix – Freeview bosses are conscious they will be overlooked by consumers. Today, Freeview started the new year telling consumers that they do not need to pay extra to get quality content.General manager Sam Irvine said “there is still a misconception about the quality of programming available on free-to-air.
Freeview reports 100,000 FreeviewPlus enabled devices throughout the country, and over 220,000 FreeviewPlus devices have been sold. Irvine said.
“It’s interesting that some viewers still think that if you’re not paying a regular subscription fee, you’re not getting the best content,” he said in a statement.
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