Opinion: Why I haven't got a reseller deal with Sky TV

Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett outlines why his company hasn't signed a content deal with Sky TV

"So Scott, why doesn’t Orcon resell Sky?" It’s a question that has been posed to me several times recently. And most recently by the editor of this publication.

Orcon and Sky have a long-standing and tight relationship. We admire the business that Sky has built, the product they have and their ability to innovate.

We’ve worked with Sky to help bring their content onto the internet via our Content Delivery Network, and we’re big fans of iSky. But at our core, Orcon is an internet company. The future of content in New Zealand is, I strongly believe, tied to the internet not a set-top box.

In other countries we are starting to see this vision of the future become reality. Over-The-Top (OTT) video and music services are the growth engines of the internet, its not peer-to-peer. In the USA, Netflix accounts for some 20 percent of internet traffic. In the UK, BBC iPlayer has similar numbers. In France, consumers have a choice of over 50 on-demand and streaming sport, television and movie services delivered over the internet.

That’s how people are watching content – and they are doing it on mobile devices, laptops, tablets and internet-connected TVs, all without a set-top box.

In New Zealand we may feel like country cousins at the moment. You don’t have to go far to hear a Kiwi bemoaning the lack of legal streaming services (normally as they defend their piracy of Game of Thrones).

But, the internet is great at solving problems, and I have no doubt that the lack of legal content in New Zealand is a short term problem.

Already this year, Quickflix has launched in New Zealand. More content services will follow in the coming months – from the niche, to the mainstream OTT solutions.

TV and Movie content won’t be about one dominant player, but several players, ranging from specialist offerings, to traditional pay-TV models and free-to-air.

As an internet company, Orcon needs to foster and nurture these new players. Our first step was to build a Content Delivery Network that streaming video providers, including Sky with iSky and e-Cast, are using to ensure the end user gets a top-class, rock-solid experience.

And, we’ve been zero-rating data from a variety of streaming video services for years now to help bolster uptake and use, including iSky.

We don’t encourage OTT services because we like losing money, rather we believe its going to happen whether we like it or not, so we might as well help out and find a way to clip the ticket on the way through. That’s where our Content Delivery Network comes in. That’s where partnering comes in, and that’s why innovation is so important.

Others disagree with our approach, and believe that choking the internet unless the content owners pay them will work – personally I think people will just switch ISPs if their current one starts those sort of practices.

As broadband performance continues to improve due to the Ultra Fast Broadband roll-out, giants such as BBC iPlayer will have no excuse not to launch here.

But perhaps more importantly, local entrepreneurs and smaller players will have an infrastructure on which to launch their content, applications and games.

In reality, services like iSky and Quickflix work OK over existing broadband infrastructure, so would iPlayer.

The reason why global content providers are not providing their services in New Zealand is due to our smaller market, meaning NZ registers lowly on these global providers to-do list. Kiwis really should not have to put up with a far more limited video catalogue of content on iTunes than someone in the UK or the US for example.

This is where I want Orcon focused, enriching the New Zealand internet, not doing the exact same thing as every other ISP and telco by reselling Sky – where’s the fun in that?

Scott Bartlett is Orcon CEO

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