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Current as of 23/12/14 05:00PM NZST

Sky moves to plug online gap

By Zac Fleming

Michael Ross watches online for free, enjoying Brazilian footballer Marcelo in action. Photo / Doug Sherring
Michael Ross watches online for free, enjoying Brazilian footballer Marcelo in action. Photo / Doug Sherring

Sky subscribers are sharing account details with friends to get behind the paywall and watch for free.

This week, the pay-to-view network admitted the practice of sharing password details for iSKY internet accounts was causing concern and it was moving to plug the gap.

Sky, which last week lost rights to broadcast Premier League English football games to a partnership between Coliseum Sports Media and TVNZ, would not disclose how many subscribers were using the iSKY service.

Head of corporate communications Kirsty Way said, "We are aware some people are using this service unfairly. We have some developments underway to help prevent this in the future. We're not quite ready to talk about them." People with a television subscription can get an iSKY log-in and pass that on, meaning one person watching on TV off a decoder, while somone else viewed via the internet at another venue.

Mike Ross' friends gave him their iSKY account details after he complained about not being able to watch sport.

Ross, 20, said he felt it was a "victimless crime" using someone else's account. "Whether I can use iSKY for free or not, I'm not going to be paying to subscribe to Sky anytime soon. It was just too expensive and the rest of my flat wasn't keen on the idea." He used his friends' account to watch iSKY for about four months but stopped because he didn't particularly enjoy watching sport on his laptop.

"I'd rather watch it on a TV at a bar or friend's house. Watching sport is a pretty social activity and there's something about sitting in your room staring at a small laptop screen that just doesn't feel right."

Michelle Ryan is a Sky subscriber but doesn't have sports in the package and desperately wanted to watch her home nation Brazil compete in the Fifa Confederations Cup over the past two weeks. The 23-year-old's mother-in-law offered her Sky account details to use to watch the games online.

"My mother-in-law's boyfriend uses it to watch sport on the computer all the time while we watch movies on the TV."

According to the iSKY terms of use, it's fine to use a customer's account if you have their permission.

The terms read: "To use the online services you must: (a) be the account holder of a Sky account, or have the account holder's express permission to use the Online Services on the account holder's behalf."

Ross said the access was there to be used and he was happy to tune in. "I'd probably have no qualms using my friend's iSKY regardless of whether Sky's okay with it, but knowing that it's allowed means I can do it without a conscience."

People can watch shows, movies and sport anywhere in NZ. It works for any channel subscribed to as part of an existing Sky subscription.

- Herald on Sunday

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