After a series of technical glitches pushed back the date from December last year, Neon is set to launch on Friday, 13 February.
“We should definitely launch tomorrow,” says Sky director of communications Kirsty Way.
Sky initially said that Neon would launch in mid-December but then pushed the date forward to late January. And, in the interim, there have been numerous unofficial release dates swirling around.
Way, along with other members of the Sky staff, has been trialling the SVOD platform over the last few weeks, and she says that this has allowed the developers to iron out some of the kinks in the system.
“Many people came forward with recommendations, and the team took these onboard,” says Way. “The overall feedback has been fantastic.”
The announcement of Neon’s launch has also sparked Vodafone into action. On its website, the telco has published a breakdown of its Neon offer, which will see some customers getting six months’ access to the service. However, Vodafone’s offer is not quite as generous as the 12-month Lightbox subscription that Spark gave to its approximately 600,000 clients.
In addition to only offering a free subscription period half as long as that offered by Spark, Vodafone also added restrictions, which mean that Neon will only be available to subscribers on unlimited broadband data and home phone plans on a 12-month term.
And while the deals aren’t necessarily equal, the impending arrival of Neon will still up the ante in an already competitive SVOD market (but don’t hold your breath—the Neon website is still in trial mode).
And, not to be outdone by news of its competitor’s arrival, Lightbox has sent out a release to various media publications in which it gloats about the strong results of Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul.
Upon its release in the United States, Better Call Saul became the highest-rating series premiere ever with 6.9 million Americans tuning in to fill the Walter White-shaped holes in their hearts.
According to a release from Lightbox, this success has been mirrored on this side of world, with the show drawing in the highest number of online streams since the service first launched.
The team at Lightbox would not be drawn into divulging any official numbers in terms of actual views, but the release says that the platform enjoyed a 37 percent increase on regular Monday night traffic.
“The public have been waiting with bated breath to see how Vince Gilligan and company would follow a show that was near perfection,” says Lightbox chief executive Kym Niblock. “They’ve absolutely nailed it and Lightbox is proud to bring this iconic series to Kiwi screens express from the US.”
The success of Better Call Saul will also be important to Lightbox, given that it has promoted the show quite heavily over the last few weeks.
The growing number of SVOD players—which will soon also include Netflix—when viewed alongside the fact that Kiwis are showing an increased willingness to spend money on streaming shows is creating an intriguing market. And, as the SVOD industry matures over the course of the year, it will be interesting to see how the various players compete to get the best shows in their lineups.