The age of internet television services is finally making inroads in New Zealand.
By the end of the year, Kiwis will have at least three paid local services to choose from: Telecom's Lightbox, Sky TV's online product and Quickflix.
It's been a long time coming with Telecom finally offering competition to Quickflix, the veteran of streaming TV in New Zealand.
Here is a guide to what to expect from Lightbox:
WHAT IS IT?
Lightbox will let subscribers watch TV shows over the internet at a time of their choosing without advertising. Movies might be added later.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
It will cost $15 a month and be available to all broadband customers, but Telecom customers would be offered a discount. Customers will be offered a free 30-day trial when it launches.
WHEN WILL IT BE AVAILABLE?
Telecom said the service would be available "within weeks".
WHAT SHOWS WILL BE AVAILABLE?
Lightbox will launch with 5000 hours of television, including series Vikings, Mad Men and the latest season of 24. Most shows will offer all the series of shows from their first episode for a binge-watching experience.
WILL MY INTERNET SPEED BE FAST ENOUGH?
It should be, but there are several factors at play.
If you have a fibre connection, you'll be fine but if you have a broadband connection through your phone line (ADSL or VDSL) then you should do a speed test. Go to speedtest.net and take the test to measure your internet speed. Try and do it during your peak viewing time which for most people is 6pm to 10pm.
The key number here is your download speed. If it's about 4MB/s or higher then you'll be fine and will be able to stream shows in both standard definition and high definition if it is available. If it's less than 2MB/s then you may be restricted to watching on your laptop.
Most Kiwis should be fine as according to figures from Truenet, an independent broadband tester, the average speed in New Zealand is 10MB/s.
WILL I HAVE ENOUGH DATA?
Maybe not. Research done last year by Statistics New Zealand shows the average Kiwi home uses about 23GB of data a month. That's enough for most internet use but when it comes to streaming video, especially the high-definition variety, then you will not have enough data.
You'll use about 1GB an hour to stream standard definition shows (2.3GB an hour for HD). If you are going to be paying $15 a month you want to be getting your money's worth. It might be time to revisit your broadband plan and even look at an unlimited package.
HOW CAN I WATCH IT?
Unfortunately, you won't just sit down and change the channel using your TV remote. There is no Sky-like set top box.
Initially, it will only be available on Apple, Android and PC apps which can be used on computers and tablets. However, you can plug in your device to your TV or stream it so you can watch it on the big screen.
Customers will be able to register their account on up to five designated devices.
Eventually, Telecom wants it available through game consoles and TVs and third-party devices such as Apple TV.
WHAT ARE THE ONLINE ALTERNATIVES?
There is Quickflix which costs $12.99 a month with premium content extra (current season TV is about $50 a series). It's available on a variety of devices including TVs and consoles.
Sky TV is launching its service by the end of the year but details are not available yet.
Alternatively, you can sign up to the United States-based Netflix through not-so-legal means for about $10 a month which lets you watch a huge range of content.
- The Dominion Post