The Emperor Nero is supposed to have played his fiddle as Rome beneath him turned to ashes; Sky TV New Zealand is Nero’s modern-day equivalent- watching on as their viewership continues to go up in smoke from the Netflix et al firestorm.
Take sport. Sky’s final product is too often glaringly deficient- particularly in the areas of expert analysis pre and post match (aside from in Rugby Union, but you would expect that), and in their lack of due diligence (not to mention responsibility to the customer) in changes to their sports programming, in particular the British soccer cup competitions from ESPN. More on those issues soon.
First, there is some good news. And it comes in the form of two magazine-style shows shown on the basic Sky sport channels; the best of which is the NZ football weekly show, hosted by the excellent and engaging Martin Devlin. The show is based around national soccer league action or, as it is known, the Stirling Sports Premiership. It is slick and has given local soccer a renewed profile and vigour. Top marks- long may it continue to screen.
The Cricket Show hosted by the able Laura McGoldrick (the partner of Blackcap Martin Guptill), has been a fixture on the network for a few seasons. But if the producers wanted to really make this show worthwhile, they should consider bringing someone aboard like former NZ Women’s cricketing great Lesley Murdoch. She would have to rate as close to the best sports commentator and analyst we have across any sport in this country, period. Another big plus is that she is certainly no graduate of the bum fluff school of presenting. (am aware the content is supposed to be breezy as befits the programme type, but contend there’s still room for a person such as Murdoch). I’d also love to see her as a part of the Sky Cricket commentary team when it comes to that.
On to the not-so-good. The way Sky cover the Wellington Phoenix matches borders on abysmal. Jason Pine and his commentary team during games is not the issue. The problem lies in the distinct lack of a decent pre or post game panel show with analysis, as Fox do in Australia. Not saying it has to be all that close to as comprehensive as Fox put out, but gee Sky, at least pretend you care about bringing a bit more more marketability and interest to your product. Get Fred, Ben and Harry to sit down properly with Jason to dissect everything before and particularly after.
What is even more galling for a good many of Sky’s loyal, long-term football customers though, is their at times staggering ineptitude in not showing the entirety of a match as listed in the MySky onscreen guide.
To relate an example. My good friend Richard, a fellow sports nut and definitely not a bellicose individual by any stretch, yet feels he is being driven to being so by this repeated pattern of behaviour in suddenly ending scheduled recording times with about half an hour or more of a match still to go. This farce mostly happens in EFL or FA Cup games.
The worst possible example of this continuing wretched and arrogant treatment of customers came in last year’s FA Cup Final, one of the world’s iconic sporting competitions. Whoever the brainless idiots were who had planned the scheduled time (obviously not soccer fans), they hadn’t factored in always the very real possibility of extra time or penalties, resulting in the inexcusable outcome of the match recording shutting down after the first period of extra time of the live coverage. That lack of foresight considering the significance of the event is about as bad as it gets. Abominable; words fail. And worse, the monthly price continues to increase as we suffer this nonsense.
To then go and lay the blame squarely on ESPN (as they did when contacted by my irate friend over the FA Cup bungle and numerous other early finish scheduling gaffes), is a bit rich. Take this advice: If ESPN are treating you with contempt Sky, then it’s up to you and you alone to sort out your feeds and times with them. You are obviously paying top dollar for the right to show the games in question, so get off your backsides and right this ridiculous anomaly for the sake of your own reputation and the value for money, not to mention the sanity, of your customers.
After all, there is surely a duty of responsibility to provide a decent service as much in your power as you possibly can; and you probably have a duty to do so as well under some section or other of the NZ Consumer Guarantee Act. Is it any wonder that your customers are deserting in droves while you keep up this culture of blame-shifting?
You’d better think about upping your game before it’s too late and all and sundry leave you for the other teams.
Paul M: firstname.lastname@example.org