Broadcasters add to schedules as new service TV on-demand launches in New Zealand.

The battle of the box is heating up as Spark officially launched its online television service overnight.

Lightbox will offer viewers around 5000 hours of content for a monthly subscription fee of $15.

Spark has invested about $20 million in the initiative, which will compete with established broadcasters like Sky Television and Television New Zealand.

But while it's unlikely to make a dent in Sky TV's profits - last week the company announced a 21 per cent gain in profit to $166 million - it appears the service is already forcing the hand of broadcasting schedulers.


Shortly after Lightbox revealed it will carry the first season of hit Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, TVNZ announced it would make both season one and season two available to view on TVNZ On Demand from September 1.

And Lightbox is promising to put more pressure on broadcasters to provide content as and when it becomes available.

"We won't hold back shows," says Lightbox head of content and local programming Maria Mahony.

"New shows will be added organically as they become available from the studios."

In a move possibly timed to deflect the Lightbox hype, Mediaworks yesterday announced a small raft of new shows due to begin screening later this year and in 2015.

The programmes are part of a new content agreement with American studio NBCUniversal for TV3 and Four.

The new shows include Heroes Reborn, a reboot of last decade's sci-fi hit Heroes; State of Affairs with former Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst with the ear of the US President; action conspiracy drama Odyssey, relationship drama Satisfaction, cop show Chicago P.D. and crime series Motive, which is due to start broadcasting in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the size and variety of the Lightbox library could also eat into sales and rentals of DVD box sets of television series with the new network offering multiple seasons of expired but enduring shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Boston Legal, Heroes, Misfits, Seinfeld, The Office, The Thick of It, The X-Files and Wallander.

Competitor Quickflix NZ also weighed in on the Lightbox launch saying it "welcomed" being joined in the marketplace but offering a comparison chart which showed that its service was two dollars per month cheaper, also offered movies and was compatible with a wider range of devices than Spark's currently is.

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