Content Favouritism: What If?

Free stuff is wonderful. Orcon’s O Zone gives you free stuff. Free Trademe, free NZOnScreen, and free iSky data among other things. Complaining about O Zone is a bit mean-spirited surely? Orcon certainly seemed to think so when I inquired about the recent removal of TVNZ from the O Zone:

“People are obviously disappointed that we are removing TVNZ from the O Zone. i.e. They appreciated having it in there in the first place. I haven’t seen any angst about the philosophy behind the O Zone. It’s surely better than having no zero rated content, don’t you think?”

Oh yes, it’s great! I don’t have to eat into my data cap when I use these services.

Thing is, being with Orcon means I have to make a choice. Do I visit the NZ Herald site for news, or do I go to One of those sites costs me data, the other doesn’t. I can never remember which. Do I listen to George for free, or stream The Rock and eat into my bandwidth cap?

Not too dramatic really. Stuff uses bugger-all data and I hate The Rock with a passion (sorry Andrew Mulligan). If I’m honest, I never really used TVNZ OnDemand  and haven’t even logged in to iSky.

So I get nothing from Orcon’s O Zone, yet it still bothers me. The very principle of my ISP choosing the price of my content and where I get if from is irksome.

A law has just been passed in the Netherlands banning mobile phone operators from blocking and/or charging differently for data traffic on their networks. This came about because said mobile operators were scanning their users’ traffic and blocking traffic to Skype and WhatsApp: both applications that enable users to make calls or send SMS messages without being charged over and above the data traffic generated.

What if?

Blocking traffic that competes with your own is highly nefarious. Certainly more so than the O Zone. But consider this: if iSky was zero rated on every ISP, and TVNZ was not zero rated on any, would this be a problem of a similar level to the Netherlands?

Or does it only count if Sky runs an ISP and charges for TVNZ traffic?

What if Orcon owns Sky’s video content delivery system (and presumably makes money off it from Sky) and charges for TVNZ traffic but not Sky’s?

What if a new on-demand video provider was not zero-rated by iSky was?

What about you?

Is this all irrelevant? Does anyone in New Zealand choose their ISP based on these free packages? Do you?

[Image Credit: Reddit]


  1. It’s a product incentive, no different to one computer retailer offering a free laptop bag with every purchase.

    Does anyone choose based on it? I highly doubt it, but is it something that gets factored in to the decision – maybe.

    People are probably more likely to be interested in things like reduced toll rates with bundled access or similar.

    Vodafone has a plan that offers reduced rates (maybe even flatrate, I’m too lazy to check) from their landlines to Vodafone mobiles. That’s probably much more incentive.

    Zero rating data to popular websites it really just a marketing point, another bullet point for the brochure.

  2. ‘Free’ content has never really been a decider for myself – it’s a good bonus, but its not really ‘free’, as people that don’t use it are effectively getting less for their money etc.

    We actually choose Vodafone as an ISP, as they had the free MySky upgrade and we got money off as we are mobile on account customers. So slightly different…

  3. It is SO far down the list it barely counts.

    Price, Speed, top up costs, service, a cool logo…all far more important.

    It is also the kind of add-on that will always be ‘subject to change’, as evidenced by Orcon, i am never interested in potentially temporary benefits.

  4. In my case, this is important in the selection of ISP as my wife is a stay-at-home mum and heavily uses TVNZ OnDemand (and other OnDemand services).

    We are with Orcon and with TVNZ OnDemand content being in their O-Zone, we could get away with a lower data cap. Now that it is going, we will have to double our data cap to continue the same level of OnDemand use as before (costing another $10/month or so).

    The issue is that when you include something in your bundles as a point of difference then remove it, it reduces the goodwill factor of the ISP. Sure it’s not the end of the world, but where will it end? What other incentives will the ISP remove after you sign up?

    In Orcon’s case, it’s not a big deal as they have no term contracts so you can change ISP if you don’t like it but I’d rather not have to switch ISP’s because they renege on their previous offerings.

  5. Yup I barely care, my speeds with Orcon are slow I can’t be bothered using TVNZ on demand.

    I already pay for 20 gb, I don’t download that much, most taken up by work bandwidth and backups to Mozy.

  6. One problem with free is you often end up getting exactly what you pay for.

    As you rightly point out most of the so-called free content isn’t worth paying for anyway.

    Another problem with free, is often it isn’t. Orcon is paying for the bandwidth, a cost which presumably is bundled up and charged back to customers at some point. In other words you’ll probably be paying more to Orcon for your access than you would pay if there was no free content.

  7. I agree with you suggestion here, but what about the fact that the genius device forces the use of their own VOIP plan over any others? Isn’t that just as bad?

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