Free iSKY Streaming for Vodafone Landline Customers

In the first of what I’m hoping will be several similar announcements, Vodafone just dropped the bomb: iSKY streaming will be free for Vodafone landline broadband users.

Udpate: The NBR has a full list of iSKY “partners” that will be zero-rating content. The article also goes into more detail about what Sky subscribers might not be getting. Hint: the more you pay Sky currently, the more iSKY content you’ll get.

We don’t know what iSKY actually is yet, nor what type, quantity, nor quality of programming will be available. Still, even if it’s nothing but ancient re-runs in less than standard definition, this is big news. It marks a further march away from neutrality of content treatment, and if a couple more large ISPs sign up (rumours have been swirling around Orcon), also marks the death of small independent ISPs in New Zealand. But who cares when we get free on-demand streaming right?

The “note to editors” on the release says “see www.isky.co.nz for more info”, but the website doesn’t seem to be live yet.

Full press release follows:
[quote]

SKY, on TV, PC, or Mobile…only on Vodafone

Vodafone is delighted to partner with SKY to launch iSKY which allows customers to stream SKY TV over the internet at home at no additional cost.

Customers will not have to worry about how much of their fixed-line broadband bundle they are using, as iSKY traffic will not be counted towards their plan.

Vodafone’s GM of Total Communications, Justin Caswell, says Vodafone and SKY TV have a strong working relationship.

“In 2006 Vodafone brought SKY Mobile TV to the mobile, in 2009 we brought FREE MY SKY HDi upgrades to our Ideal and Ultimate broadband customers. Now, with iSKY, customers have the freedom to chose how they want to consume media, with the added bonus of data not being counted against their fixed-line broadband data allowance at home”.

iSKY will be available to all Vodafone residential broadband customers later this year.[/quote]

A Question: MySky for My Sky?

skytv_logo The question machine has recorded another question for me to play back:
[quote]We are looking at getting “My Sky”, so I rang sky and now I dont know which way to go.. We already have a DVD recorder but the MAIN reason I want  Mysky is after spending about $300 odd on trying to get our reception better on normal TV (if we are taping a sky channel, we may want to watch TV1 etc), anyway after a new arial and many hours we still have s**t reception if not watching through sky.. So we have decided Mysky will fix our troubles? Sky lady said we have two options..

  • OPTION 1…. Pay $599.00 and then nothing extra for ever.. so that way we would still only be paying  about $85 a month for our sky channel pack which we are paying now…
  • OPTION 2…. Pay $99.00 for instilation and then an extra $15 a month for as long as we have “Mysky”….
  • EXTRA OPTION….. For an extra $10 on top of what ever option we pick we can get HD???  Is it really that important to have HD?

So PLEASE PLEASE can someone help me and tell me which way they would go?  I tend to think  OPTION 2 as I would bet just about anything there will be a new something within at least 18 months but then again I am normally wrong so what to do??
I absolutly hate when I feel like I have had a bad deal or feel I have been ripped off……[/quote]
I absolutely hate feeling ripped off too. It’s like that feeling you get when you’re watching a pay TV channel that you’re forking over $90 per month for, and the program keeps being interrupted by ads. Ads targeted perfectly in the way only a company with thousands of phone-connected decoders could do.

But I digress! You asked a question about MySky. Let me break it down as best I can in order of your question marks: Probably; Correct; Maybe; I shall; Good point.

Probably

Yes, probably a Sky account will fix your reception issues. Unlike a terrestrial TVNZ signal, the Sky signal is beamed down from a satellite, so unless you point your reception dish the wrong way or plant an exceptionally large tree in the wrong place, your signal will be perfect.

Correct

Yes, Sky asks for an additional $10 per month on top of any subscription for their “HD Access Ticket”. You can have all the bells, whistles, and chrome plated grease nipples required to view HD content, but you’re not going to get any Aiych Dees from Sky’s spaceship unless you pay them those ten dollars every month.

I suppose the satellite must have to blow a bit harder to get the extra digital bits down to your satellite dish.

Maybe

Is it really that important to have HD? Maybe. Do you have a big HD television? If you don’t then there’s certainly no point in paying that $10 per month.

If you do have a nice big HD television, then I personally think it’s worth the extra $10 per month. Sometimes you won’t even notice, but most of the time you’ll be pleased with the extra depth and clarity, especially when you swap between HD and standard channels to compare.

Hi-Def nerds will complain that Sky’s particular flavour of HD is no great shakes compared to Freeview. While their position (like most nerdery) is grounded solidly in fact, the reality is that slightly crap HD is better than no HD at all.

I Shall

You ask for someone to tell you which way you should go. As you point out: at $15 per month, it’s going to be three and a bit years before you’re on the wrong side of $599, by which time there might be a new version, or your salary increase might make the $15 irrelevant. I think you’ve answered your own question.

Additionally: if I had paid $599, I’d be a lot more upset than I am at the smelly stool that attempts to pass as a user interface on the MySkyHDi. I could rant for a good hour about just how perplexing it is to use, but I present one exhibit for consideration: It takes at least 3 button presses (and often many more), to set up a show for “series link”. It takes a single, shiny, inviting (to a six year old), yellow button press to delete a recorded show forever. No warning, no undo, do not pass Go, do not watch that episode of The Pacific. Ever. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Pacific is a disappointment anyway.

Good Point

Sorry, I don’t mean “good point: you are normally wrong”. I mean “good point: there is usually a new device every 18-24 months”.

Go with the $15 per month option. Pay the $10 “HD ticket” if you have a half-decent HD TV.

Sky TV Website Security Update

Juha Saarinen has written an excellent article covering the security issues I had with Sky Television?s web help site.

[quote]

The help system used by the broadcaster lacks account authentication by password, allowing access from the internet simply by guessing the email address of a registered user.

[/quote]

Sky have ostensibly fixed the site by enabling the password option, but you?ll find you can still quite happily log in as me with no password. This will also be the case with everyone who has used the system to ask a question, unless they have purposely gone in and set a password since Sky enabled the option.

Additionally, Sky?s Fernando Battaglia informed me that they have fixed the issue with having no unsubscribe option on the Alert emails. If by ?fixed? he means that he stuck some lipstick on a legless pig, then he?s correct. They?ve added a link to the website where you can log in and unsubscribe. If, like me, you can?t log in due to a highly informative ?biz2010 error could not be found?, then you?re outta luck and will continue to be spammed.

There?s a very good reason that the New Zealand anti-spam law requires an unsubscribe facility using the same method as the original message. In this case I should be able to unsubscribe by simply replying to the alert email.

Poor effort Sky. Must try harder. 2/10. See me.

Sky Television: A lesson in frustration

Update: the post below documents my frustrations, but I have since discovered a pretty large security hole in the Sky Customer Help site. The site requires no password, meaning you can guess an email address (say that of John Fellet, CEO, or Fernando Battaglia, Web Development Manager), and view any questions they have posted, or post questions as them. This is a Bad ThingTM

SkyTV has a really neat feature whereby one can subscribe to email updates about upcoming programs. I think it?s called the ?Alert Service?. I caught the last few episodes of a program called Around the World in 80 Gardens1, and I wanted to see the rest of the series, so I subscribed for alerts when the program would be on again.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don?t ever, ever subscribe to this service. In fact, I might suggest you stay well away from Sky?s website at all times.

Why do I say this? Let me count the ways:

  1. Once you get on the alert service, there is no way to unsubscribe by the normal ?reply? method. Interestingly, this contravenes the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, making it liable for a fine.
  2. Apparently, you can log into the Sky website to unsubscribe, but I wouldn?t know that because every time I try to log in I get this error message:
    Sky Error
  3. After these issues, I somehow managed to log a support request last week via their help system. I checked the request yesterday and it was logged as ?SOLVED?. Soon after that I got another alert message.
  4. Tonight, I went to log in to the support system from another PC. The login page is just brilliant:
    Sky Help Login
    Note the complete lack of a password input. If you do click the login button, you get ?The login ID and password combination you provided is invalid?. Errr, perhaps that?s because I wasn?t able to type a password!?
  5. But wait, it gets better. I then realised I’d used the wrong email address. I tried typing the correct email address, and lo! Logged in without a password. Now I know this is not massively confidential information, but if you can guess someone’s email address, you can get straight into this help system, and maybe run across a question containing account details, or perhaps a credit card number if you’re really lucky.

So all in all, probably the most shockingly bad web experience I?ve ever had the displeasure to deal with. Stay well away.

Footnote 1: Mad as it sounds, Around the World in 80 Gardens is actually a lovely program, moreso if you have a passing interest in design and architecture. The Mediterranean program in particular is just amazing. Incredible modern and ancient gardens in amazing settings.