Sky, Vodafone's set-top box crucial to merger
The set-top box is emerging as a key driver of boosting engagement in pay-TV following the release of more details on the proposed $3.44 billion merger between Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand, analysts say.
The extra detail highlights a clear change in direction for the merged group, with a move from satellite delivery to an IP-enabled set-top box, using Vodafone capability as a key way to lift engagement in pay-TV and as the platform for its next generation premium offering, say First New Zealand Capital analysts.
The set-top box may also drive the future of its plans for over-the-top (OTT) delivered content.
Earlier this week an independent appraisal report by Grant Samuel said Sky doesn't have an attractive future as a "pure" standalone pay-TV business in the longer term as it faces increased rivalry and a "fundamental deterioration" in its strategic position.
Sky directors have recommended shareholders vote on July 6 in favour of the deal which will give Vodafone Europe a 51 percent share of the combined group.
Grant Samuel said the deal was fair -- a view reiterated by First NZ's analysts -- although they say this will ultimately be tested when they have an integrated model of the business incorporating Vodafone NZ's telco prospects.
Delivery of a new IP platform will require a significant degree of support and co-operation from the Vodafone Group -- most likely centred around its two key fixed/pay-TV markets, Germany and Spain, the analysts say -- in order to achieve the full $850 million in estimated synergies from the merger.
The merged companies plan to boost their bundled packages, including moving from a triple play -- fixed-line voice, fixed-line broadband, and pay-television services -- into a quad play, by adding mobile.
Sky's share price is currently trading at $4.99, which compares to First NZ's 12-month target price of $4.58, including 30 cents per share attributed to likely synergy benefits from the merger.