In response to the perspective that TV is losing its strength in the face of digital offerings, Thinkbox UK said “TV isn’t dying, it’s just having babies”, and today, another one of those babies has been born. Vodafone has unveiled Vodafone TV, the first cloud-based TV platform operating over fibre and the telco’s FibreX network.
The service brings together Sky TV, free-to-air and a range of popular online and app-based entertainment services such as Netflix (if the user has an existing Netflix subscription) together in one system that allows viewers the option to switch between watching on their smartphone, tablet and television.
Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams says the service combats the existing complication of messing around with different remotes and apps when wanting to sit and relax in front of the television.
“Vodafone TV simplifies everything by pulling all your favourite content together in one place, giving you the freedom and control to enjoy television the way it should be.”
Williams is also adamant that TV isn’t slowing down and his perspective on the topic comes from not only being a new broadcaster but also from Vodafone’s reliance on the platform for advertising.
“As one of New Zealand’s largest advertisers, I definitely think TV’s got a very significant role to play in advertising,” he says.
"New Zealanders and people of the world are consuming more and more video and we see it growing exponentially over our networks. I think the only thing that’s changing is people are now demanding a modern, digital experience like Netflix and that’s what we are trying to deliver here.”
The Vodafone TV campaign, by DDB, comes in the wake of the telco’s global rebrand earlier this month that saw it retire its ‘Power to you’ slogan and adopt a new ‘The Future is exciting. Ready?’ slogan.
At the time, Williams said the shift was important for the brand at this stage given the impact technology is set to have in the next few years. And now only weeks later, Vodafone TV is demonstrating that technology.
Vodafone has been playing in the television market since 2009 when it started packaging Sky with its broadband and Williams says that’s gone very well and it’s now looking for a way to modernise the TV experience for New Zealand by making it digital and delivering it over broadband.
It’s a similar statement to the one made by Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners last year when Vodafone and Sky proposed a merger. At a press conference about what a new resulting company might look like, he said: "We already do bundle up packages of fixed and broadband services with Sky and mobile packages. I think what we have now is the opportunity to be more sophisticated and actually create more attractive propositions for our consumers."
With a proposition like that, Receptive.tv’s director Sam Aldred responded with a suggestion that Freeview-plus should look at becoming a home for on-demand content outside of its free-to-air shareholders.
Since then, the Commerce Commission has declined clearance for the merger and as the news broke, Sky said it and Vodafone would continue to work together to strengthen their commercial relationship for the benefit of the customers and the shareholders of the respective organisations.
Now, it’s not only Sky and Vodafone working together as the telco has also partnered with MediaWorks, TVNZ and Maori TV, which are all part of Freeview.
Because of that, Williams says Vodafone does not consider itself a competitor to Freeview.
Vodafone TV is only available with a 12 or 24 month Vodafone Unlimited Fibre or FibreX packages and in addition to unlimited broadband and Sky Basic, the packages will include all free-to-air channels such as TVNZ 1 and TVNZ 2, THREE, Bravo, Maori Television and Television 33, premium subscription applications like Netflix, as well as easy access to TVNZ OnDemand, ThreeNow, YouTube, iHeartRadio and Love Nature 4K.
It also features catch-up functionality that is delivered directly from the cloud so customers can watch lots of the shows they’ve missed over the last three days, even if they’ve forgotten to set up a recording.
Over time Vodafone expects to expand content channels and evolving functionality will make the experience even more diverse and user-friendly for customers.
“I personally believe this will fundamentally change the way New Zealanders watch TV and consume digital video so I think this is the start of an exciting journey for New Zealand,” says Williams.