It feels like Sky is getting a beatdown from every direction at moment: the price, their service, their digital offering or how Amazon 'might' make a bid for the All Blacks. To add, a failed merger and a share price that has dropped significantly in the last 12 months. A crisis? Well, a comparative crisis perhaps (it remains more profitable than TVNZ, MediaWorks, NZME and Fairfax) however, there is a certain sense that the digital horsemen of the apocalypse are circling.
So here are five and a half ways Sky could potentially circumnavigate this tricky patch.
Sky should be a well-loved brand. It's ubiquitous, delivers an effective service and supports New Zealand's biggest passion, sport, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year. However, years of running a monopoly will take the shine off anyone. It's time to take the Telecom/Spark approach and bin 'Sky' for good and be a new, modern, creative, innovative, New Zealand brand.
Build better products
A better brand needs better products – what about adding skinny bundles? A standalone digital movie service? Pricing that makes sense for FanPass? A long-term strategy for Neon?
It's not about becoming Netflix, but original programming is the best way to add value to your service and create additional revenue in more lucrative global markets. Owning and exploiting IP needs to be a priority for local media businesses (take note TVNZ); it's no secret there's no scale in New Zealand. ITV in the UK now earns 50 percent of its revenue from non-broadcast avenues, selling programming and brands overseas. That might be a stretch but this is a creative nation, and it might be time to invest in becoming a production hub.
Use the subscriber base
850,000 subscribers! What an opportunity but how to add value? Time to offer an ISP service for a start (SKY UK have 6M broadband customers). The merger with Vodafone has failed, there are small ISPs to buy and there are plenty of customers to work with. What about a broader effort as well to own the home? How about partnering with a third party for an Alexa type home AI and home automation. No one else is effectively and Amazon isn't here (yet).
Make (better) friends with free-to-air
Free-to-air is no longer the enemy. It's the digital Goliaths that want to own TV. There must be a more effective way for everyone to work better together. Could something be put together with Freeview? How about a pooled fund for original programming?
Get better sandwich options
It's time to move out of Mount Wellington. Yes, the technology and infrastructure need to stay put, but it's time to move everyone else out of that unloved cattle shed.
- Sam Aldred is the director of Receptive.tv. He regularly writes for StopPress on issues relating to the television industry.