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Why SkyTV is doomed

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Here’s a wee heads up to the board of SkyTV – there’s a difference between #1 and being the market leader.

Currently you’ve got 850k-ish subscribers.  It’s an impressively large number, no one would argue that.  But what percentage of your base are happy and satisfied SkyTV customers?  How many of them begrudge how much they spend with you each month?  How many are just waiting for alternative solutions to finally make their way down here and then will happily tell SkyTV exactly where to stick it?

I’m not alone in this. I polled 750 women recently and a whopping 25% said SkyTV is losing it.  It’s also been a regular dinner party conversation for about two years now – and the frustrations are the same across the board.  The platform interacts like it was built in the 1990’s (mostly because it was) and has absolutely no intuitive features.  In a world where technology prides itself on knowing what you want before you know you even want it, the frustration of digi-natives like myself is palatable.

The opportunity to be useful is enormous.  The content world today – as the new SkyTV ad tells us – is so rich and broad and we want to consume as much of it as we possibly can.  We don’t want to waste our precious time, we want to find great content that entertains, informs and inspires.  As the volume of content increases (to the tune of 25 hours of video uploaded every 1 minute on Youtube), we need a little help finding the good stuff.

SkyTV this is your job.  We expect you to know where the good stuff is and to make it available on your platform.  According to your ad, you do this.  Great!  But we also expect you to make it easy for us to find it and consume it.  Your platform is clunky.  It is not intuitive.  It doesn’t make suggestions.  It should know by now that I rather like Big Bang Theory – so how come it doesn’t suggest that I record the new episodes now released on Friday nights (which I didn’t know about it).  Actually, it’s a rather laughable story of poor user experience on how I finally worked out that it was even on Friday nights.  Like most people in my age / psychographic, I don’t watch ads, so I never saw TV2’s promotion of it.  The program guide on SkyTV was VERY hard to look at for more than a day ahead (don’t believe me?  Try and search for something a week from now) and even TVNZ’s website doesn’t think about if I’m looking for a programme instead of looking for a day.  No one is connecting the dots and thinking about the user experience.

But why should I have to ‘tape’ things today?  Why can’t I go and experience the content I want to when I want to?  I guarantee you that I would consume 10 x the volume of content on SkyTV than I am today if it were made available to me in that way.  I am a voracious consumer of Apple TV, Spotify and Pandora.  The experiences I have in those mediums should be no different to the ones I have with my “TV” time.

It worries me that a multi-billion dollar company is resting on it’s laurels.  That it is still focused on creating brand ads that tell consumers that they have great content.  When do they think we’ll see that ad (maybe on Youtube where they force us to watch ads)?  Or is it purely aimed at those not already on SkyTV?  In which case, why are they focused on the laggard end of the market?  Surely growth will come from innovation and extending out their services to their current base?  You know, retention?  And in fact the board of SkyTV should really be focused on ensuring that growth isn’t replaced by decline as more alternatives arrive and provide a more seamless and useful experience.

Today’s consumer is looking for two things – to find what they’re looking for faster and to make life easier.  Which of these jobs is Sky TV doing well today?  What you did well 5 years ago isn’t enough today – simply providing a record button and a fast forward/rewind function isn’t enough now.  My expectations as a consumer is that I don’t need to have 3 consoles in my house (which I do – so I’m a high end customer of SkyTV), that the platform can see that I like certain things and can make smart suggestions, that I can record programmes off ads (we know you have this functionality, so why not put it on everything?), that I can easily find things and add them in.  Not just by title or channel, but by category or subject matter.  Looking a week or a month in advance.  Or hey, how about make more things on demand that aren’t movies – there’s no pain in the movie market, we’ve got plenty of options.  But I can tell you that if you made it possible for me to binge on my favourite TV show for 2 days straight, I would (and happily pay you for it).  The modern consumer isn’t looking for a free ride.  I don’t download illegally.  I’ll pay for services and I’ll pay for content.  I WANT TO KEEP GIVING YOU MY MONEY.  Just don’t make me hate you for it like I do today.

14 years ago the CEO of one of the record companies said to me, “digital music will never replace CDs”.  It’s fair to say he didn’t last in that job.  SkyTV risks being a victim of it’s own success – where it can’t see that being #1 and is not the same as being the market leader.   The opportunity to innovate as the market leader (in NZ anyhow) is NOW.  Wait until others are here and offering pricing half of yours and your billion + valuation is going to go the way of the Yellow Pages….

Or at least that’s my theory.