Igloo launches after months of delay

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 10:24 03/12/2012

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Sky Television and Television New Zealand's Igloo pay-television service has launched today after a five-month delay, confirming speculation late last week.

The Igloo joint venture said set-top boxes were now available from Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, Bond & Bond and Norman Ross stores and online priced at $199.

Sky has forecast Igloo could have 50,000 subscribers within its first year. Analyst Morningstar forecast it could attract about 100,000 households by 2017, by which time it expected revenues of $42m and a profit of $7.5m. About half of those converts would be free-to-air viewers and half existing Sky subscribers who it expected would "trade down" to the discount service.

Igloo is available to the 86 per cent of people who live in areas where FreeviewHD is available and, like FreeviewHD, requires a UHF aerial.

Customers can use the boxes to pick up FreeviewHD channels without incurring any ongoing charges.

However, they can also pre-pay for 11 Sky channels, at a cost of $24.99 for 30 days viewing, and watch All Blacks, some Super 15 and Warriors games and some other big sporting events for about $14.95 per match.

Neither requires an internet connection. But if customers do connect Igloo boxes to the internet, they will be able to rent more than 1000 movies, costing $4.99 to $6.99, and about 200 television programmes, priced at $1.99.

If Igloo boxes are connected to the internet, customers will be able to buy channel packs and pay-per-view sports by credit card using their remote control, rather than having to phone Igloo or visit its website.

An electronic programme guide will show programming for the next eight days, or 15 days if the boxes are connected to the internet.

The boxes do not include hard drives, but customers will be able to "pause" and then resume watching programmes by inserting a USB stick to buffer programming. An 8Gb stick would store four hours of television, Igloo chief executive Chaz Savage said.

Savage said he was "excited to be giving New Zealand a new way to watch TV" that was affordable and flexible.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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