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Speaker: We don’t make the rules, we're just trying to play by them

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  • David Zanetti, in reply to Sacha,

    Even Netflix US, etc, aren't producing much of the content they distribute

    There was a time in the US when cable channels didn't produce much content, but just distributed someone else's.

    Now they dominate the Emmy awards and are more than a serious contender for content. The same eventually will happen to Netflix (and, to a certain extent, already is: House of Cards has won Emmy, Golden Globe, and other "mainstream" awards for what is a show that originates on an Internet streaming platform).

    Since Aug 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    It's pretty obvious that the main reason for this legal action is that global mode crosses the line and makes it too easy for "mom & pop" users to get into the international content bypassing game. As long as just a few nerds installed VPNs the local broadcasters could live with that but once Call Plus gobbled up the large customer base of Orcon and extended global mode out, the writng was on the wall.

    It would be interesting to know what Spark & Lightbox's long term strategy is because on the face of it, they have made a disastrous decision getting into the content aggregation business this late into the technology curve. Sky will always hold on to a non-tech and rural base here in NZ but Lightbox has feck all leverage and you wonder if Spark has really even understood the business it is getting into?

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • sumware,

    So you took a gamble that paying squillions for geoblocked, outdated content was worth it?

    Big Media Companies to Lightbox: "You can buy our old content, but we will keep the recent stuff for now."

    What a great deal. Let's protect that....not.

    For what it's worth, I'm signed up to Lightbox. I can't say that I'm overwhelmed. First thing I did was to see if I can catch up on Modern Family, which I've missed lately. You are not one, but two seasons behind!

    It looks like Big Media said to you guys "bend over"...

    AKL • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    True, that’s conflating production and distribution. Even Netflix US, etc, aren’t producing much of the content they distribute.

    The interesting thing is that they're increasingly in direct competition with HBO, which continues to produce plenty of TV, including some of the defining television of its era. What HBO is facing is a falling-off of its traditional cable subscriber revenue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to David Zanetti,

    How much content do they produce as a proportion of what they distribute? Don't have time to do research myself today.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • wasabicube, in reply to Russell Brown,

    When they show a return on their $35 million, perhaps then you could argue that the model had worked. Until that time, I'd suggest they're wandering into TiVo and Igloo territory without an up-to-date map.

    Whangaparaoa • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to wasabicube,

    When they show a return on their $35 million, perhaps then you could argue that the model had worked. Until that time, I’d suggest they’re wandering into TiVo and Igloo territory without an up-to-date map.

    I meant the existing territorial rights model for global TV distribution, which is currently still the one that can be said to work, although not without facing growing challenges.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • wasabicube,

    Perhaps there's a time-limited model around showing recently broadcast television versus perpetually archived seasons. The time-limited model is the one in which TVNZ and MediaWorks currently dwell, for overseas content. So, I don't see them as direct rivals to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. SkyTV has made a long-term play to hoard rights and make them available in dribs and drabs and at a high fee. Maybe Neon changes that. I guess I'm looking at Spark and wondering what their business plan was for going off piste and setting up a rival to Netflix?

    Whangaparaoa • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The Netflix /HBO competition is likely to produce wealth. Y’know by adding something that wasn’t previously there. I’m happy to contribute to there capital, so they can employ the making of good quolity art. I’m sceptical about what cultural advancements , Spark, Sky, Media works, and TVNZ are capable or willing to add.

    All said in the interest of healthy capitalism.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    For me as a consumer the question is pretty simple

    How do I ensure that the money I pay to view, actually results in the creation of content I enjoy?

    Back in the day local book distributors served a purpose, they got books to NZ that I would have no other way of accessing, same for TV/movie distribution companies. They were the ONLY way I could pay the creator for the product.

    That they all clipped the ticket as it went past was a pain, but it was just the only way it could work.

    So what does lightbox contribute to the path from my bank account to the creator?

    The answer would appear to be nothing. They are manipulating a legacy distribution structure for their own profit. Capitalists amongst us would pat them on the back, good effort spotting the opportunity to make a buck off me.

    But for me, wanting to pay the creator, they just stole some of the creator's money for no benefit.

    Frankly the vague threats for the local content creation community just highlight how morally bankrupt Lightbox and co are, sorry Ms Niblock that's a harsh judgement and comes across as nastier than I would personally like to be but I didn't force you to take up the role you chose.

    I accept that legally Lightbox an co might be in the right, that isn't necessarily something you should be proud of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Kym: I'm all or paying for content - but what I wont do is pay two of you, twice, for content that is 95% the same - that's a waste of my money.

    When you make an exclusive contract with a studio you are contracting away my choice, and I don't get a cut of the money you make, instead you get to (potentially) charge me more - there's something wrong here, after all it's my choice that is being bartered away without my say so, not yours.

    You are trying to claim market share by creating small monopolies and then trying to leverage them, something that is illegal in New Zealand - that's far from "one of the most competitive marketplaces in the world" - it's more of a 1900s robber baron world view.

    So I'm in the market for a digital provider, right now, I am your target market - I wont be choosing you so long as your company behaves this way, I wont be choosing Sky for much the same reason - honestly my only real choices for providers are off shore. Or, as someone who has 10 years of cable and SVOD engineering under my belt, maybe I should just roll my own ....

    If you want to compete with the offshore sites provide the same service and the same price.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But for me, wanting to pay the creator, they just stole some of the creator’s money for no benefit.

    Surely they pay content licenses which in theory go to the creators (though more likely the producers)? That's no different to what say Netflix US do. Local content would seem to be a differentiator over time.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    maybe I should just roll my own

    Wonder how many subscribers you’d need to sustain a niche operator that picks up open-source content or material the others don’t?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    Surely they pay content licenses which in theory go to the creators (though more likely the producers)? That’s no different to what say Netflix US do.

    As far as I can tell, I could buy from Netflix who pay the creators (the producers who pay the creators) and pay $X

    Or I can buy from Lightbox who pay Netflix who pay the creators (the producers who pay the creators) and pay $X+$Y

    That $Y goes where? Certainly not to the creators.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bill Bennett,

    The Canute reference in the post is probably a reference to my story:

    Global mode action: You Canute be serious (http://billbennett.co.nz/2015/04/03/global-mode-action-you-canute-be-serious/ ).

    One problem I deal with there is that local media outlets have been sold an exclusive licence promise by the major studios that can’t (or won’t) deliver on their promise.

    Questions that need to be asked are things like “what are they doing to crack down on outlets like Netflix US selling streaming video to New Zealand?”

    No doubt taking legal action against the studios to fix this would be ruinous for the likes of Lightbox.

    The other problem with the action against CallPlus is that, rightly or wrongly, it shuts down avenue where legal money flows from consumers to content makers. Some of that missing cash may flow to local distributors like Lightbox, much of it will be lost to piracy.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2012 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    But whether we like it or not, the reality of the content model today, put in place by content owners, is that premium video content is sold with geographic rights at very substantial prices.

    Some are arguing that we are chasing the wrong people and that we should be chasing those who sold us the NZ exclusive content rights in the first place. …. I don’t believe it’s fair or reasonable for content sellers to be regarded as responsible for the active promotion by others of services that avoid the constraints of the geographic rights they have sold.

    Content sellers are not “responsible” for active promotion by others. They are, however, responsible for having sold you NZ-exclusive content rights while knowing full well that they couldn’t guarantee that exclusivity. You’re responsible for your commercial decision to pay what you did for the content, also knowing full well the exclusivity wasn’t assured.

    Our concern is that NZ companies like Callplus, who have paid nothing for content, are actively promoting a commercial service which enables large numbers of customers to access content without needing any technical know-how

    This line really made me see red. I get the point made by others here that that it’s the “large numbers” bit which matters, because of value to the content provider, but what you’re basically saying is that it’s fine for me (and my parents) to be able to watch the TV we want, as soon as it’s available, because my husband has the technical know-how and has told us how to do it easily; but anyone who doesn’t have a tech-savvy friend or family member just has to suck it up. Amongst all your talk about fairness, that’s pretty insulting.

    Until that point, I had some small respect for your willingness to publish this piece here, knowing that you’d be writing to a very hostile audience. However, your arguments are poor even when not insulting, and I find myself wondering whether your decision to contribute this piece was based on an underestimate of the sophistication of your likely readers – much like your decision to pay large amounts for “exclusive content”.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Sam Durbin, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You appear to be advancing an argument that the people who pay for content do not contribute to its production, which isn’t the case i’m afraid.

    Content owners and creators auction the rights off in geographic chunks, the value of which is based on a variety of factors – market size, expected return, all the usual things that go into a business decision. Exclusivity is an important part for the owners/creators as it drives the cost of that content up – buyers don’t exactly get much choice on that front. The money that is created from that process goes into funding future production.

    Ergo, the rights that Sky, TVNZ, MediaWorks, and Lightbox pay for directly contribute to the ongoing production of content.

    What you’re talking about is what happens when people by-pass geoblocking – you might still pay Netflix or Hulu for that content, but they haven’t paid for the right to distribute it to you (being outside of America), meaning the revenue you provide them goes straight into their bottom line and not to the creators and owners of that content.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Bill Bennett, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    There's a $Y in both equations. If you buy direct from Netflix you are still paying $Y to someone else for VPN services.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2012 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    It’s our understanding the laws allowing parallel importing are about importing physical objects not digital services, so are not applicable – but this is another reason why the rules need to be sorted.

    You undermine your own argument Kym when you say that you're fine with parallel importing, provided it doesn't apply to your particular "product". Like it or not, there are no special rules for television shows. Whether it's a widget or a digital download, it's still a product.

    As a news junkie I read a few international news sites each day. Many of the stories I read appear on the Herald and/or Stuff sites the next day. Both NZME and Fairfax pay the content producers for the local publishing rights to those stories. Your business model suggests that my access to the Telegraph, Guardian or Washington Post should be blocked by my ISP -- on the grounds that the local sites "own" those local distribution rights. That is of course, nonsense.

    It's pretty easy for any individual to bypass geo-blocking. The Lightbox business model relies on there being enough naive consumers who lack the nouse to access global services and fails to take account of the paradigm shift that's happening globally. The days of buying exclusive territorial rights to TV content are quickly coming to an end.

    Threatening legal action against the smaller ISPs because Telecom, Sky and TVNZ have deeper pockets is hardly likely to win you any friends or new customers. Your argument is with the people who sold you territorial rights -- by all means go ahead and sue them.

    And good luck with that.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1387 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    It's not difficult, to access US content,. No VPN/software needed, just a change in A DNS settings.

    Spark/telecom/gen-i has a history of being a late follower. They have based business cases on things like Lightbox and NZ Datacentres on some pretty flawed assumptions around the disruption UFB and offshore cloud SAAS/IAAS/PAAS.

    Flawed investments are not the responsibility of the consumer to cover.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Some of the costs are in aggregating licenses.

    Sadly for the media industry, that part of the business model is also under threat – hence counter-moves like those under the TPP to beef up enforceability of rights. This local case is just part of the push-back. And can we trust dolts like Groser not to trade this stuff off against the slightest whiff of dairy access?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Sam Durbin,

    What you’re talking about is what happens when people by-pass geoblocking – you might still pay Netflix or Hulu for that content, but they haven’t paid for the right to distribute it to you (being outside of America), meaning the revenue you provide them goes straight into their bottom line and not to the creators and owners of that content.

    Thanks for that Sam, it's the first description I've read that has allowed me to understand why there's a difference between me buying an episode of Broadchurch from Amazon UK (which I can do because we lived in the UK recently and set it up on our Nintendo Wii, and it still works here) and waiting to watch it a week later on NZ TV (which I "pay for" by exposing myself to the advertising that comes with it).

    I'd really rather I could pay each content creator individually. I watched Wolf Hall on iBBC, and I'd have liked to have been able to pay them either in cash, or by exposing myself to NZ advertising. I don't feel like I really paid for it because the advertising in it was for UK products and services, and therefore of no value to the advertisers who paid the BBC. But given that there was an apparently legal avenue available to watch it now, I wasn't going to hang around however many months waiting for some NZ channel to pick it up.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Madchen Ross,

    The need for internet content is at it's highest in New Zealand, presently. The current government have done everything possible to dismantle our freeview project, removing our children's show (selling it to Sky) and replacing it with commercial driven content, dumbing down the content available by removing channel 7 (Documentary channel,) and threatening to get rid of "Campbell Live," replacing him with a couple old rugby stars who will not challenge the status quo. This is a prime example of the "dumbing down" of television content in New Zealand!

    Our content has been dismantled so that the government buddies, Sky, will get all the NZ money--it's a monopoly, folks. I will not allow my children to be subjected to commercials while watching "educational television." I carefully select what they watch from the internet, now. Before, Kidzone was a fabulous program that Labour ran commercial free on freeview, because young minds don't need to be told to buy cheap plastic toys! This is only an example.

    I refuse to purchase Sky, on the basis that it has made good regional programming out of reach for the masses, who are getting poorer daily while the wealth transfers from the poor to the richest. Unfortunately, the poorest third of this country can't afford unlimited download internet service. It's a shame.

    Dunedin • Since Apr 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • steve black, in reply to John Holley,

    Flawed investments are not the responsibility of the consumer to cover.

    Actually, I think they might be under the government corporate welfare policy, but that's another TPPish topic entirely. :-)

    We're trailing edge adopters of technology here. My household implementation of SVOD is we go to Videon and hire a DVD and watch it. Most TV is not of interest to us, and I'm happy to wait a decade or more after a series has finished before I even have a look. By then it has proved the test of time.

    And yes we've used a VPN so that my daughter could communicate with us from behind the Great Firewall of China. For some reason China even had the University of Victoria web site blocked some time back. Go figure.

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sam Durbin,

    Ergo, the rights that Sky, TVNZ, MediaWorks, and Lightbox pay for directly contribute to the ongoing production of content.

    And then they charge me double or triple or ten times that. All for the privilege of buying from them what I could just as easily buy direct.

    Sure I get that Netflix is probably getting more traffic than they paid for, that should not be my problem.

    The thing is back when these systems were set up local distributors actually contributed something to the chain. Now that simply is not true, Lightbox and their ilk contribute nothing. Why should I give them any money at all.

    And as for paying VPN services I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they are cheaper than Lightbox and co by a country mile.

    Sure they consolidate - but frankly I don't need another set of steak knives - I already have the best ones in the world

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

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