New Vodafone NZ boss Jason Paris wasn't 100 per cent happy with one of his company's products when the Herald first interviewed him in November - Vodafone TV.
The next-generation Vodafone TV, previewed exclusively to the Herald today, addresses its predecessor's deficiencies and adds some nifty features - bringing it much closer to Paris' ambition for it to be "the entertainment platform for all New Zealanders".
But along the way, one of the Vodafone boss's central aims - to get Spark Sport on to Vodafone TV - has fallen by the wayside. More on that shortly.
On the face of things, the first-generation Vodafone TV seemed pretty good when it was first released in late 2017. It was an Apple TV-sized box that would let your television receive all the Sky TV channels you wanted, but delivered over UFB rather than a satellite dish.
Unlike Sky TV's own decoder, Vodafone TV supported a number of apps, too, including Netflix, TVNZ OnDemand, 3Now, YouTube and iHeartRadio.
You could also stream content to a mobile or tablet, record as many channels as you liked at once and store up to 200 hours of content in the cloud.
But customers complained its interface was as slow as a wet week.
Coming in as Mr Fixit, Paris conceded first-generation Vodafone TV was released "too early". In hindsight, it was more of a "beta" or trial version.
Now, Vodafone is releasing its second-generation Vodafone TV unit ($179), which is being officially launched in September but should see a soft-launch this week.
One key change is that you no longer have to be a Vodafone broadband customer to get Vodafone. It will be available to all comers - but whoever your ISP, an unlimited data fibre plan is recommended. Copper won't cut it.
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Snappier performance is promised, and cloud storage is boosted to the equivalent of 500 hours of viewing.
The app line-up will be boosted to include Sky TV's Fanpass (being rebranded Sky Sport Now), with Sky's Neon and Spark's Lightbox and Amazon's Prime Video due to follow "soon".
But Spark Sport is conspicuously absent.
Earlier this year, Paris was as keen as mustard to get Spark Sport on Vodafone TV.
That was a good idea. Vodafone TV would have been an easy way for non-technical users to get access to the Rugby World Cup - or indeed more regular Spark Sport fare, including Formula One racing and the English Premier League, kicking off next weekend.
And it would have helped Paris attain his ambition for Vodafone TV to be a one-stop shop, aggregating all the content you want to watch.
But the landscape has shifted since Paris' comments in November.
2degrees, Vocus and Vodafone say Spark did not offer Spark Sport on the wholesale terms they had been hoping for (Spark denied the claim in comments to the Herald last week).
Today, Vodafone consumer director Carolyn Luey said the resale terms put on the table by Spark meant it was "not commercially viable" to include Spark Sport on the new generation Vodafone TV. It would also have been technically challenging to add the app to Vodafone TV before the RWC kicked off, she said, but that point was made moot when Vodafone (and Vocus and 2degrees) pulled the plug on wholesale negotiations.
Luey also underlined earlier comments by Paris that Vodafone was surprised at the number of games Spark decided to offer free via TVNZ (12 matches will be on the state broadcaster, including all of the All Blacks' pool games plus the ABs' assumed quarter-final on a one-hour delay, and the semis and the finals live).
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But while that move dimmed the commercial appeal of reselling a Spark Sport Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass, Vodafone has not shut the door on Spark Sport completely.
If Spark achieves its ambition of securing rights to more top-tier rugby, and other A-list sports, then Vodafone will reopen negotiations, Luey says.
Vodafone TV is a descendant of the old TelstraClear T-box. At one point, TelstraClear boss Allan Freeth complained noisily that his company's wholesale contract with Sky had become a "pain point" because Sky put sharp restrictions on what content the T-box could carry beyond its own.
But, without going into a lot of detail, new Sky TV chief executive Martin Stewart has told the Herald he's happy to liberalise wholesale contracts.
"I have no trouble sharing space with other content providers because we've simply got the best content. I'm very confident customers will see that and buy our service," he said late last month.
The impending presence of Spark's Lightbox and Amazon's Prime video on the next-gen Vodafone TV shows Sky TV has indeed loosened up.
But the question of whether Stewart would have been happy with Spark Sport on Vodafone TV - or whether that would have been a bridge too far - has been pushed out to another day, thanks to the barney between Vodafone and Spark over wholesale terms.
The new Sky TV boss has also had an indirect influence on events via his decision to axe two hardware projects: a decoder upgrade, plus an Android-powered box that would have been very similar in features to Vodafone TV, allowing all Sky content, plus apps, to be delivered over fibre. For now, Vodafone will now have that field to itself.
Next-gen Vodafone TV at a glance
• Now available to customers of any ISP
• Vodafone TV connects to your television and gives you all Sky TV & free-to-air broadcast channels delivered over fibre plus Fanpass, Netflix, YouTube, TVNZ OnDemand and 3Now, with Lightbox, Neon and Amazon Prime Video being added shortly
• Spark Sport app absent
• Wi-Fi now built in for easier setup, billed as plug-and-play
• Faster performance than its predecessor
• Record as many channels as you like at once
• 500 hours of cloud-based storage
• Supports 4K (Ultra High Definition) video
• $179 for hardware; Sky channels, apps like Netflix charged at regular rate