Sky pulls the plug on Igloo on March 31 next year. It’s four-year lifespan is a tribute to Sky TV and its finessing of the New Zealand pay TV market. The set top box was a hybrid of free to air channels and 13 basic sky channels for $19.95 a month. It allowed movie streaming of pay-per-view movies on broadband but it never really caught on. Until September Sky TV will offer Igloo subscribers the basic Sky package at the Igloo price of $19.95 fee and partial refunds on set top boxes. Initially a joint venture with TVNZ, Igloo was an attempt by arch-rivals to work together rather than against one another. Sky was more ambivalent about the venture than TVNZ.
For Sky, Igloo was an attempt to fill a small gap in the pay TV market while preventing outsiders moving in. More attractive TVNZ contributing have the cost for what was always going to be a stopgap measure. For TVNZ it was an attempt to secure pay TV revenue while developing its on demand income.
Dubbed “Sky Lite” Igloo was overcome by events such as the arrival of subscription video on demand services such as Netflix, Lightbox and Neon. Igloo harks back to a time when the pay TV sector was overwhelmingly dominated by Sky TV. New developments were envisaged. but they were not yet apparent and the future of TV seemed simpler. The joint venture was formed amidst growing concerns from free to air channels about the dominance of Sky.
TVNZ chief executive at the time Rick Ellis developed pay TV channels for the the main Sky platform. TVNZ also had a hapless experience with PVR Tivo that like Igloo led to a substantial write off. TVNZ cut back its $12.3 million investment then wrote it off the remainder, leaving John Fellet to finally pull the plug.