Sky and TVNZ announced yesterday that they were partnering up to deliver a new budget pay tv service, entrenching TVNZ’s desire to move towards subscription based revenue and driving the wedge deeper into their position with Freeview despite them saying otherwise.
Freeview wouldn’t comment on the announcement other than to say they currently have compatible products agreements with TCL, TiVo and Sony PlayTV but not this new venture so they aren’t licensed to use Freeview’s trademarks.
We also posed some questions to Eric Kearley, TVNZ’s head of digital services who will also sit on the new venture’s board.
Throng: Firstly, with the announcement today that TVNZ and Sky are launching a new Pay TV offering, does this secure the future of TVNZ7 and or TVNZU?
EK: The venture does not change the status of TVNZ7 or TVNZU in any way. The venture will launch a new platform, there is no effect on the content or plans for any individual TVNZ channels that we can currently predict.
Throng: What implications do you see with TVNZ being a stakeholder in Freeview?
EK: TVNZ is committed to supporting Freeview and FTA television, which will remain at the core of TVNZ. Freeview has been very successful in getting New Zealanders to convert to digital television in preparation for for Digital Switch Over, and will continue to be so. This venture provides consumers with more choice to convert to digital as we approach DSO.
TVNZ is committed to supporting the governments timetable to achieving DSO through multiple initiatives including support for Freeview, participation in the Digital Switch Over group, “Going Digital” communication initiatives, and now the participation and support for this joint venture.
Throng: What will TiVo’s involvement be with this new service, if any?
While TVNZ can, on the surface, state that they support Freeview, surely there are conflicts of interest. I can’t imagine that the other seats at the Freeview table will be happy knowing that any commercially sensitive information will be readily available to a competitor.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out…