Sky Network Television: Wikis

  
  

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Sky Network Television
Type Public (NZX: SKT)
Founded 1987
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Key people John Fellet, CEO
Peter Macourt, Chairman
Industry Subscription Television
DVD Rental
Products Sky Television
Fatso
Revenue $692.0 million NZD (2009)
Profit $88.1 million NZD (2009)
Website www.skytv.co.nz

Sky Network Television Limited (ASXSKT; NZX: SKT), (often stylised SKY), is a New Zealand pay television service. On March 10, 2009, Sky had 756,130 subscribers, which comprises:

  • 623,564 residential digital subscribers,
  • 111,260 wholesale subscribers, and
  • 21,306 other subscribers.

All up, Sky was in 47.2% of New Zealand homes, making it the largest television platform in New Zealand.

Contents

History

Founded by Terry Jarvis, Craig Heatley, Trevor Farmer and Alan Gibbs in 1987 as Sky Media Limited.

Sky Media Limited originally formed to investigate the possibility of beaming sports programming into clubs and pubs using high performance 4 metre satellite dishes by Jarvis and an engineering associate Brian Green but was redirected into pay television following successful bidding in 1990 for four groups of UHF frequencies in the Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga regions.

The first Sky subscriber was former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Jonathan Hunt, according to Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Sky rapidly won long term rights from US sports network ESPN (which became a 1% shareholder) as well as CNN and HBO providing it with a supply of sports, news and movies for three channels: Sky Sport, Sky News (a mix of CNN International and BBC bulletins) and Sky Movies (later renamed HBO, before reverting back to its original name.)

Initially only operating in the Auckland region Sky contracted Broadcast Communications to provide the broadcast service and transmission from its Panorama Road studios formerly owned by defunct broadcaster Northern Television.

Later, as funding allowed Sky extended its coverage throughout most of New Zealand, in 1994, Sky launched two further channels, Discovery and Orange. The company expanded to Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Southland and Otago, follow by the Wairarapa, Taupo and Wanganui regions in 1995. Its final UHF expansion, in 1996, was to Taranaki, Whangarei and eastern Bay of Plenty.

In April 1997, Sky introduced a nationwide analogue direct broadcasting via satellite (DBS) service that would also give it the opportunity to offer its customers more channels and interactive options. It upgraded it to a digital service in December 1998.

The concept of a pay television service was new to New Zealand and Sky had early problems. These included viewer acceptance of subscriber television. It faced difficulty in educating retailers and customers on the use of the original decoders. However, this problem was eased with the introduction of easier-to-use decoders that allowed greater viewer flexibility.

Channels that are no longer carried by Sky TV include Granada UKTV, Hallmark Channel, TVSN and Property TV. A SkyMail email service was also featured for a time, but was later pulled due to lack of interest, (including the wireless keyboards they had produced for it).

2006 Sky Digital outage

The direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) service went offline just before 7p.m. NZST (8 a.m. London, 3 a.m. New York) on March 30, 2006. The interruption affected service to over 550,000 customers and caused many decoders to advise customers of "rain fade." Due to excessive volume of calls to the Sky toll-free helpdesk Sky posted update messages on their website advising customers that they were working with Optus to restore service by midnight.

Sky gave the cause as a problem during a routine manoeuvre of the B1 satellite. Sky also blamed the total solar eclipse that occurred the same day, with the solar panels being in shadow and unable to recharge themselves. Astronomers said that it was extremely unlikely there was any connection, as the satellite would only have been in shadow for a few more minutes than usual, if even in the shadow of the Moon at all during the eclipse.[1] Service was resumed at 8 a.m. (9 p.m. London, 4 p.m. New York) on March 31, 2006.[2] SKY credited customers with one day's subscription fees as compensation for the downtime, at a cost to the company of NZ$ 1.5 million.

This outage prompted a New Zealander by the name of "Ben" to jokingly list the satellite as an item for sale on New Zealand's online-auction website TradeMe, eventually clocking up over 231000 page views and receiving much feedback and even mention in local media. It was listed with the description "One slightly used digital TV broadcast satellite. Seems to be misbehaving at the moment, unsure what the problem is, so bid at your own risk."

Prime Television

In November 2005, Sky announced it had purchased the free-to-air channel Prime Television for NZ$30 million. Sky uses Prime to promote its pay content and to show delayed sports coverage. New Zealand's Commerce Commission issued clearance for the purchase on February 8, 2006.[3]

2009-2010 UHF shutdown

Sky is now in the process of turning off their UHF service. This started with Taupo on August 31, 2009, and will be completed by March 11, 2010. They plan to hand their UHF and radio spectrum back to the Government and trade them for digital terrestrial bandwidth.[4]

Products and services

Television

Channels Available

The following lists all current digital channels:

Channel No. Channel Name Subscription package Widescreen HD Notes
000 Preview Basic Yes No Previews Sky Box Office
001 TV One Basic Yes Yes Free-to-air
002 TV2 Basic Yes Yes Free-to-air
003 TV3 Basic Yes Yes Free-to-air
004 Prime Basic Yes No Free-to-air
005 the BOX Basic Yes No
006 UKTV Basic Yes No
007 Vibe Basic Yes No
008 Living Basic No No
009 Food Television Basic No No
010 Comedy Central Basic Yes No
011 E! Basic Yes No
012 C4 Basic Yes No Free-to-air
014 MTV Basic No No
016 TVNZ 6 Basic Yes No Free-to-air
017 Fashion TV Basic Yes No
019 Māori Television Basic Yes No Free-to-air
020 Sky Movies Sky Movies Yes Yes
021 Sky Movies 2 Sky Movies Yes No
022 Sky Movies Greats Sky Movies Yes Yes
023 MGM Sky Movies Yes No
024 TCM Sky Movies No No
025 Rialto Channel Platinum Movies (also Extra Channel) Yes No
028 Preview Basic Yes No Previews Sky Box Office
030 Sky Sport 1 Sky Sport Yes Yes
031 Sky Sport 2 Sky Sport Yes Yes
032 Sky Sport 3 Sky Sport Yes No
033 Sky Sport Highlights Sky Sport Yes No
034 ESPN Basic No No
035 TAB TV Basic Yes No
036 Trackside Basic Yes No Free-to-air
037 The Rugby Channel Platinum Sport Yes No
040 Disney Channel Basic Yes No
041 Nickelodeon Basic No No
042 Cartoon Network Basic Yes No
045 Playhouse Disney Basic Yes No
050 Playin' TV Extra Channel No No Interactive games channel
051 MindGames Extra Channel No No Interactive quiz channel
059 Te Reo Basic Yes No Free-to-air
062 Juice TV Basic Yes No
063 63 - Our Music TV Basic Yes No
070 Discovery Channel Basic No No
071 ci Basic Yes No
072 National Geographic Basic Yes No
073 History Basic Yes No
074 Documentary Channel Basic Yes No
075 Animal Planet Basic No No
077 Travel Channel Basic Yes No Launches May 1
079 The Arts Channel Extra Channel No No
089 Triangle STRATOS Basic No No Free-to-air
090 Sky News Basic Yes No
091 CNN Basic No No
092 Fox News Basic Yes No
093 BBC World News Basic Yes No
094 Parliament TV Basic Yes No Free-to-air
095 CNBC Basic No No World business channel
097 TVNZ 7 Basic Yes No Free-to-air
098 Weather Channel Basic No No Interactive weather service.
099 Country 99 TV Extra Channel Yes No
110 CUE Basic Yes No Free-to-air
111 Shine TV Basic No No
200 Sky Box Office Events Basic Yes No A pay-per-view channel showing events such as combat sports and concerts
201-216 Sky Box Office Movies Basic Yes No A group of pay-per-view movie channels
217 Playboy TV Basic No No Pay-per-view
218 Adult Channel Basic No No Pay-per-view
219 Spice Xcess Basic No No Pay-per-view
300-309 World TV World TV No No A group of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese channels
310 CCTV-9 Basic No No
311 Real Good Life Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
312 New Supremo Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
315 STAR Plus Hindi Extra Channel No No
319 Preview Basic Yes No Previews Sky Box Office
400-413 Sky Digital Music Sky Digital Music N/A N/A A group of digital radio channels
500 Kiwi FM Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
501 Radio New Zealand National Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
502 Radio New Zealand Concert Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
505 Tahu FM Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel
506 Calvary Chapel Radio Basic N/A N/A Digital radio channel

Future Channels:

  • Travel Channel - May 1, 2010
  • TVNZ Heartland - June 1, 2010

Interactive Services:

  • Skybet - interactive sports betting service.
  • Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) - Television listing information
  • Playin TV Games - video games.
  • MindGames - challenging video games.
  • Weather Channel - interactive weather maps and information.

Digital video recorders

My Sky

In December 2005, Sky released its own Digital Video Recorder (DVR), which essentially is an upgraded set top box similar to Foxtel IQ in Australia or TiVo in the U.S.. Called My Sky, it offers viewers the ability to pause live television, rewind television, record up to two channels at once straight to the set top box and watch the start of a recorded programme while still recording the end. It also gives viewers access to a revamped Guide and the new Planner, used to plan and access recordings at the touch of a button. However the PVR box remains the property of SKY Television.

One of the advertised features of My Sky is the ability of the system to record series of programs using the "Series Link" feature. But this has proven to be somewhat unreliable in that on occasions, intended future recordings are not made. This has occurred since the inception of the service. Sky TV say they are working to determine the cause of the random failures, and to rectify it. Soft rebooting the decoder appears to temporarily overcome the problem.

There was software in My Sky that after an hour of no signal from Sky then the decoder locks playback of pre-recorded programmes. This was discovered after the Optus B1 satellite was unable to broadcast Sky to over 600,000 subscribers.

This generation of box was replaced by My Sky HDi when it launched on 1 July 2008.

My Sky HDi
The My Sky HDi decoder and remote control

On 1 July 2008, a new service called My Sky HDi was launched, and is the successor to the My Sky service released in 2006. The HD channels available are Sky Movies, Sky Movies Greats, Sky Sport 1, Sky Sport 2, as well as free-to-air channels TV ONE, TV2, and TV3.

The new boxes allow connection of to up to four satellites which can work with its four TV tuner cards in any combination. Two channels can be recorded at once, while another can be watched live and the fourth is for a non-real time pay per view service. The device has a 320GB HDD however only 160GB is available for recording, the remaining is reserved for on-demand downloads. The quality of My Sky HDi is 576i via component and 720/1080i via HDMI.

As of June 30, 2009, there are 84,002 My Sky HDi subscribers.

Sky On Demand

Sky announced late 2006 that it will be using the 30% reserved disk space in the PVR to offer a video on demand service to its My Sky customers. This service commenced in 2007 and offers 12 - 15 titles at any one time. New titles will be downloaded automatically from the Optus D1 satellite to the PVR and listed only when they are available for purchase and instant playback. SKY intends to add a remote programming feature to My Sky allowing customers to program their PVR's using the Internet or mobile phones.

Copy Protection

In May 2009 Sky introduced copy protection on My Sky and My Sky HDi decoders limiting the ability to copy material from My Sky/My Sky HDi to DVD/HDD recorders and to PCs. Sky Movies, Sky Movies 2, Sky Movies Greats, MGM & TCM have a copy-once encoding meaning movies can be copied however any further copying is prevented. Sky Box Office channels, including Adult channels are copy protected so DVD/HDD recorders & PCs will not record from these channels. Other channels are not copy protected. Copy protection technology is not built into other decoders.

Remote Record

In August 2009 a new online service was launched where customers can log on and set their My Sky or My Sky HDi's to record programmes.[5]

The instruction to record a programme is sent to the set-top boxes via satellite.

Mobile

Sky Mobile TV

In December, 2006, Sky announced that it will be launching a new mobile television service to Vodafone New Zealand's 3G customers. The channels include:

Publishing

Skywatch

Sky also provides a Skywatch monthly magazine to all its customers. The latest readership survey shows that Skywatch has a readership of 965,000 which makes it the largest magazine read in New Zealand, and the largest monthly magazine. The magazine provides monthly listings for Sky channels, as well as highlights and features.

Sky Sport The Magazine

In January 2007, Sky launched Sky Sport The Magazine, as the published extension of the Sky Sport television package. The magazine features articles by local and international sports writers, as well as sports photography.

Web

Fatso

Sky also owns an Online DVD rental service - Fatso.

Technical

Sky Digital subscribers get a standard 60-centimetre satellite dish installed on their home along with set-top boxes including modems for a return path.

Sky switched from the elderly Optus B1 to the Optus D1 satellite for its DBS service on 15 November 2006. Initially, Sky used vertically polarised transponders on Optus D1 (as it had on Optus B1). However, on 31 July 2007 it moved its programming to horizontally polarised transponders with New Zealand-specific beams to be consistent with Freeview and to gain access to more transmission capacity. Sky have also purchased some of the capacity of Optus D3, which was launched mid August 2009, this gives Sky the ability to add more channels and upgrade existing channels to HD in the future.

A set-top box (STB) is used to decrypt the satellite signals. Digital broadcasts are in DVB-compliant MPEG-2. Interactive services and the EPG use the proprietary OpenTV system, with operates both a UHF terrestrial pay television service on five networks of frequencies covering around 83 percent of the population and direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) service offering around 70 channels of programming.

See also

References

  1. ^ New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on Stuff.co.nz
  2. ^ CFM
  3. ^ Commerce Commission Website - Sky cleared to acquire Prime Television
  4. ^ Sky TV ready to flick its UHF switch
  5. ^ Pullar-Stecker, Tom (2009-08-10). "Sky TV to offer Remote Record". The Dominon Post. http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/2734003/Sky-TV-to-offer-Remote-Record. Retrieved August 11, 2009. "Sky Television's 70,000 MySky subscribers will be able to log on to the internet to programme their set-top boxes to record programmes from Friday next week." 

External links








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