Spark is pooh-poohing the Sky TV-Vodafone merger. But by playing down the importance of its own TV venture called Lightbox, Spark implies it does not really plan to compete in the emerging video market. Reacting to the merger announcement today, Simon Moutter said Spark did not compete with Sky.
The real competition in the future of media is with global over-the-top players like Netflix, YouTube and Apple or with direct-to-consumer premium sports content owners, he said. “The reality is that Spark has been competing successfully with a tightly integrated partnership between Vodafone NZ and Sky TV for a couple of years now. Vodafone NZ has been bundling and deeply discounting Sky TV products while Sky TV actively resells Vodafone NZ broadband, he said. “During that time Sky TV’s core subscriber base has declined while Vodafone NZ’s broadband base has had little or no growth since they acquired Telstra Clear nearly four years ago.
Moutter said: “We don’t believe a merged Sky TV and Vodafone NZ poses a greater challenge to Spark than the existing partnership has achieved to date.
In my opinion Moutter doth protest too much. The reality is that the triple play ventures between sky and Vodafone, have been limited and unattractive. Maybe the new company will try harder. Spark has come to a bit of an impasse with Lightbox which has become a loss leader and is used to boost sales for the Spark broadband offering. The Lightbox Sport platform appears to have taken a low profile. Spark spent lost $35 million on Lightbox for the year to June 30 2016 but beyond advertising and sponsorships there is little sign Lightbox is going to grow further. Maybe Moutter is right and Voda-Sky will go downhill the way the individual companies have lately. But if its strategy is to sit out the video revolution does not encourage confidence for Spark either.