More than a year after Netflix launched in New Zealand, new research confirms the subscriber streaming service is the most popular with Kiwis, with more than 264,000 paid subscribers by the end of 2015.

That's more than double the number signed up to Lightbox, according to Roy Morgan Research, which released subscriber figures in its State of the Nation report last month.

According to the report, one in four Kiwis had access to a paid video-on-demand service by the end of last year, including 128,000 signed up to Lightbox and 22,000 subscribing to Sky's Neon service.

None of the services has ever revealed their official subscriber numbers, citing commercial sensitivity.


Streaming giant Netflix entered the New Zealand market in March 2015 to great fanfare, bringing with it acclaimed original series including Bloodline, Narcos and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The move forced its competitors to act defensively with Spark's Lightbox service, which launched in August 2014, immediately dropping its monthly subscription fee from $15 to $12.99.

Sky also went on the offensive, rushing to launch its own streaming service Neon, which launched ahead of Netflix in February but was delayed by a series of technical issues.

At the same time, TVNZ launched its revamped on-demand service, overhauling a system first launched in 2007. According to a spokesperson, the free service now has more than 1.16 million registered users.

But now, more than a year on, how does each of the services stack up? At the time of launch, anecdotal reports suggested every service suffered technical issues, with the exception of Netflix.

We set about testing the five key players to see which streaming service offers the best user experience. Rather than focus on content, we tested the technical performance of each service to see which offered plain sailing - and which are struggling to stay afloat.

House of Cards streams via Netflix, Breaking Bad on Lightbox, and Game of Thrones via Neon.
House of Cards streams via Netflix, Breaking Bad on Lightbox, and Game of Thrones via Neon.