Has John Fellet had a come to Jesus moment?

In 2014, Sky’s CEO told the NBR that their new SVOD service wouldn’t include sports content because “people prefer to watch sport live”.

At the time, I suggested that Fellet must have been completely oblivious to the fact that much of the sport content they hold the rights to that people really wanted to watch were able to be streamed live, and in HD, already.

This week, Sky have done an about face and have launched their new FanPass service which allows fans of Super Rugby, Rugby League, and Formula 1 to subscribe to a streaming service rather than paying for a full Sky subscription.

The cost for each of these subscriptions ranges from $19.90 a week for the NRL, to a season pass of $299 for each of them.

Once again, Sky have proven how out of touch they are with pricing. If you’re already a Sky subscriber, to get Sky Sport, in HD, it costs $440.04 over 12 months for all three of their Sky Sports channels, as well as any additional pop up channels they switch on for special events when they need the capacity. The NRL, meanwhile, runs for approximately 7 months of the year. If you just had sport for that period, the cost is $256.69 or $186.76 if you don’t care for HD. Considering the Super Rugby is on for a similar period of time, the costs are simply ridiculous.

I had a number of questions for Sky’s CEO, John Fellet, but was told he wouldn’t be available to speak to me.

Sky are a legacy monopoly provider who have failed to realise they are actually in the communication business and proof of that is the uncommunicative nature of their CEO and the way they’ve communicated the value of their products.

I wanted to know why he’s had a change of heart from his earlier comments. I wanted to know why there was still no All Blacks tests available. And more importantly, I wanted to know why the cost for their service was three times the price for exactly the same service in Australia for fans of the NRL.

Let’s take a look at the options. If you want to watch the NRL, and only the NRL, it will cost you $299 through Sky’s new service. In Australia, a digital pass costs $2.99AUD per week compared to the $19.90, on FanPass which makes it 6 times more expensive here. The season pass in Australia costs $89.99AUD which is only a third of the price.

There is also another alternative and that is LiveStream. The streaming service offers the entire season, including last weekend’s Nines, in HD, with either advertising or ad-free for €60.

Accessing both of these services is easy using a paid VPN or via one of the browser plugins you can get these days.

Yes, Sky have decided to offer a “legal alternative” but once again, the cost is simply outrageous. One could easily consider them price gouging based on what is happening elsewhere in the world.

This pricing just reinforces that Sky simply have no idea of the state of the real world in the consumption of content and they have dramatically failed in their attempt to provide consumers with the service that they want.

The sooner sports rights get split up between broadcast and streaming, the better it will be for consumers. Sky simply don’t care. They could have done themselves proud but this offering is exactly the kind of predictable embarrassment the audience that should be customers of FanPass would have expected.

Subscribe to our mailing list

About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
More from this author »

  • Guest

    I think it’s pretty clear, the pricing is structured for people who DON’T HAVE SKY.

  • Jas

    You are being a bit misleading here. The digital pass isn’t designed for watching on TVs at all and the NRL has made it so that the screen size is ‘only’ the same as the device it is registered to. It will be really good to get the family around on Sunday to watch the Warriors on your 7inch phone.
    Considering it is $200 for PLP then you wouldn’t expect the NRL to be less? Do you think that the NRL wants everyone to be about to get it for 60 euros? I know with VPN’s you can lie about where and who you are to get it cheaper but eventually if too many people do that then the price to those overseas will go up.
    Just look at NFL season pass, as many people from the USA were using VPNs to access it for free the NFL stopped it being free.

    • Regan Cunliffe

      At $26.68 per month for Sky Sport, spread that across three channels, that works out at a revenue of $0.01 per hour per channel. At 14 hours of NRL per week, and lets be generous and quadruple it for replays etc, that’s revenue of 56c per week per sky sport subscriber. How much of that does the NRL get? Let’s be generous and say half. 28c per week or $1.12 per month. Compare that $1.12 to $299 or $89.99AUD or €60. If the NRL were getting half of that per digital subscriber then I know where I’d be wanting to be pushing.

      It’s not about making it free, it’s about making it a fair price. At the moment, it is not. And there is absolutely nothing misleading about that at all.

      • Jas

        You do know that digital pass is set up so it wont show as full size on TVs?
        If you took the amount SKY paid for the rights + cost to film warriors games + cost to run studio shows then divided that by the number of viewers I bet that it will be a lot more per viewer than $90AUD or 60 euros.

        Using your logic I suppose you think everything should be the same price in a restaurant etc

        • Regan Cunliffe

          All you’ve done is prove that it’s a rubbish service.

          Despite the fact that I think your math is flawed, there are at least 2 other territories that are able to offer an even better service at a much lower price.

          Using your restaurant analogy, the Economist’s Big Mac Index shows the over and undervalue of a big mac based on the price in USD of a Big Mac in each country. You would expect that by converting a currency, a Big Mac should cost approximately the same amount no matter where in the world you are.

          There is a strongly held view by many consumers that being a resident of any given country shouldn’t provide reason to be penalised with higher prices. In a digital context, the shipping, transportation, and delivery costs dictate even less of an impact on the price, therefore making it easier to keep the costs fairly standard.

          You, and Sky, can plead poverty all you like but it’s complete and utter BS and there is no reasonable excuse for the price gouging that is going on.