No more free Lightbox for Spark customers

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Jun 2020, 3:04PM
Brad Pitt in Ad Astra, coming soon to Neon.
Brad Pitt in Ad Astra, coming soon to Neon.

No more free Lightbox for Spark customers

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Jun 2020, 3:04PM

Spark customers who have been enjoying Lightbox for free can kiss the service goodbye - or at least as a freebie.

Spark sold its entertainment streaming service to Sky in a $6m deal that closed on January 1.

Under a wholesale deal, Spark customers retained free access until mid-2020 - the estimated time it would take Sky to merge Lightbox with its own Neon service.

Now, that time is nearly here.

Today, Sky said the merged Lightbox and Neon service will launch on July 7.

"It will no longer be included free of charge in Spark mobile and broadband plans," a Spark spokeswoman confirms.

But Spark customers will be able to buy the merged service at the discounted rate of $9.95 per month (Neon usually costs $13.95, with new-release movies costing extra).

"Because we have made this change all customers are entitled to exit their Spark plan or leave Spark entirely if they would prefer until 15 July, without paying an early termination fee (for fixed-term plans) or a notice period fee (for pay monthly plans)," a Spark spokeswoman told the Herald.

The merged service will retain the name Neon, but have content drawn from both Neon and the old Lightbox, and use Lighbox's interface, according to a social media post by Spark.

Spark claimed more than 300,000 users for Lightbox at times.

But the telco never detailed how many were Spark customers who got the service for free, and how many were with other ISP and paid to access the streaming service.

At the time of its sale, there were 130,768 active Lightbox users, including freebies.

Wealth manager Jarden has predicted that Spark will also exit sport. Spark CEO Jolie Hodson earlier told the Herald that was not correct but also declined to say if her company would bid for Sanzaar rights next time around, saying it was too early to make a comment.