Spark hits back at Netflix prices, drops Lightbox cost

Lightbox's newest show is Wolf Hall, featuring Homeland's Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England.

Lightbox's newest show is Wolf Hall, featuring Homeland's Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England.

Spark has dropped the price of its Lightbox internet television service to match rival Netflix.

READ MORE: Netflix to undercut rivals

Netflix had planned to undercut rivals Sky Television and Lightbox when it launches its New Zealand internet television service on Tuesday.

The United States company said its local service would be priced from $9.99 a month in standard definition (SD) and $12.99 in high definition (HD).

However, Lightbox chief executive Kym Niblock said it would cut the price of its HD-capable service from $15 to $12.99 on Tuesday. Lightbox is not available in SD-only.

Sky TV, which charges $20 a month for its SD Neon service, has not signalled it will review its pricing.

Niblock also announced fresh content for Lightbox, saying it had negotiated rights to the BBC's new political drama Wolf Hall, crime drama The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and WWII spy thriller X Company.

Lightbox was also increasing its stable of local shows with the addition of the Taika Waititi-directed New Zealand comedy Super City, starring Madeleine Sami, she said.

Netflix sparked controversy last week when it said it would not charge GST on its service as it is not a "local entity".  

In keeping with its US policy, Netflix has declined to say how many hours of programming its local service will offer.

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Its flagship show at launch is the thriller, Bloodline, starring Ben Mendelsohn, Sissy Spacek and Kyle Chandler which started in the US over the weekend. Other shows include Marco Polo, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil and Sense8.

Netflix will include seasons one and two of Orange is the New Black and it said season three would premiere "exclusively on Netflix" in June.

A "premium" service with some programmes in "ultrahigh definition" (4K) will cost $15.99.

In line with Lightbox and Neon, Netflix will offer a free one-month trial.

The service will compete with Neon, Lightbox, Quickflix, as well as Netflix' US service which tens of thousands of Kiwis are believed to have signed up to, in breach of Netflix' terms and conditions.

At launch, Netflix will be available on smart televisions from Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and HiSense as well as PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo consoles.

It can also be used on Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple and Android tablets and smartphones.

This is significantly more devices than recently launched Lightbox or Neon, which have targeted computers, tablets and phones for their service. However, Niblock has said Lightbox will add support for Chromecast within "weeks", providing an easy means for subscribers to watch Lightbox cable-free on modern televisions.

Netflix' US service is priced at between US$7.99 (NZ$10.56) and $11.99 (NZ$15.85) though there are many more shows available.

 - Stuff

Related Links

Netflix to undercut rivals

Lightbox coming to Chromecast

No GST for Netflix

Apple to launch TV streaming


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