pre-programmed, pre-occupation of watching television is about to get a
lot more interesting as viewers are given significantly more choice
about what they watch, where, when, and on which
Digital pay TV
operations like Sky Network, and TelstraClear’s InHome network in
Christchurch and Wellington, have owned the digital market for over a
decade but now face some serious challenges.
live in May, it was described as “the most significant event in New
Zealand broadcasting since the launch of colour television in 1974”. The
number of subscribers quickly exceeded expectations, reaching 41,000
viewers by August and possibly 80,000 by the end of the year.
As well as TV1, TV2, TV3, C4, Parliament and Maori TV it now has TVNZ
TVNZ 6 and a satellite exclusive
version of Triangle, with everything on track for 15 services by the end
government chipped in $79 million over five years to help TVNZ reclaim
its role as “champion of New Zealand content and culture”.
There are two approved set-top box makers, Zinwell and Hills
Signalmaster, which sell through major home electronics chains for
$250-$300. The boxes deliver digital TV and radio reception, an
electronic programming guide (EPG) to help plan viewing, an output for
surround sound and widescreen support. Those with an unused Sky TV
satellite dish can simply plug it into their Freeview set-top box.
Meanwhile both Sky
and Freeview are about to move to high definition – hopefully in time
for the Olympic Games in China in August 2008.
Sky will deliver by
satellite and Freeview will broadcast terrestrially. Both will offer
next generation MPEG 4 set top box recorders with Internet access for
$300-$500 per unit.
Aitchison, New Zealand manager for Hills SignalMaster says the majority
of people accessing Freeview satellite service are in outlying areas or
places where existing reception is not up to scratch. The shift to HDTV
will give more people the incentive to move across, as it gives greater
clarity, particularly for watching sport or shows where there is a lot
of action. “You don’t get the digital break up, it’s crystal clear.”
broadcasters are looking sideways at telecommunications carriers and
ISPs who are planning to add TV and movies to their bundle of phone and
Internet services in line with global trends. CallPlus has its sights
set on IPTV as a third component of its wireless-DSL hybrid for voice
and data. Orcon is planning to deliver up to 50 channels of IPTV over
the Internet and already has the back-end technology and content
contracts in place.
is planning to launch a similar service in 2009. Philip King, Telecom’s
general manager of video, says IPTV is about quality on-demand TV
content, initially augmenting free-to-air or pay TV offerings. “The
world is moving increasingly towards an on-demand lifestyle for
content.” Telecom could work with Sky and free-to-air players as well as
other content providers. At least 5Mbit/sec Internet speeds would be
Meanwhile Sky TV has launched eight channels including cartoons, news,
sport and MTV reality shows to Vodafone's 3G mobile customers.
is trialing technology to enable mobile phones to act as mini-TV sets
has a five year plan to be seen on “every screen”. Its Ondemand service
offers a mix of free streamed clips and paid-for downloadable shows and
it’s also delivering content on YouTube.
New players are
contending for TV, computer and mobile screens and
not as if you can sit back and ignore all these changes, traditional
analogue TV will no longer be available after the off switch is thrown