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The Spark Netflix deal

28 February 2017

Sky TV are moaning that just days after their attempt to get a merger with Vodafone past the regulators failed, Spark and Netflix have done a deal which sees them working closely together as telco and content provider.

Just why is it that one telco (Vodafone) and one content provider (SkyTV) can't get into bed together while another telco (Spark) and another content provider (Netflix) can?

Well that's pretty obvious, perhaps to everyone but an embittered SkyTV.

The VodaSky deal was a merging of the two companies to become a single entity. The SparkFlix deal is simply a reseller arrangement. The difference is like night and day.

However, what I want to talk about today is the rort that this special offer from Spark/Netflix represents.

On the face of it the offer looks sweet. $180 worth of Netflix (1 year) for free.

Why wouldn't anyone jump at that deal?

Well let's take a closer look because the devil is in the detail.

Firstly, you will need to commit to a 24-month term contract with Spark to provide your broadband service and that contract has a hefty "exit fee" of up to $399 if you decide to break it before the end of the 24-month period.

Do you really want to be locked in to Spark for two years -- given the fact that they seem to have a pretty poor track record at disaster management? Just look at the email fiascoes that have taken place over the years and more recently their nationwide day-long mobile outage.

Also, and this is perhaps the most important aspect, there is no guarantee that Spark won't hike their prices during that 24-month contract period.

What will this deal look like if, 6-months into the contract, Spark decide to hike their broadband plans by $10 a month?

With 18 months to go you'll face paying an extra $180 -- the value that the "free" Netflix was supposed to represent in the first place.

It's worth remembering that Spark aren't out to make friends, they're out to make money!

Then there's the issue of what happens should Netflix hike it's prices -- that seems undefined because clause 10 of the "Conditions" clearly states:

"This offer is applied as a total value of $179.88, for 12 months of a Netflix "Standard" subscription. Value of offer may be applied to a different Netflix streaming plan, but such exchanges may change the length of time you get Netflix on us.".

Also, let's not forget that Netflix offers new customers a "free" month to start with so if you're not already a Netflix customer you're actually only getting 11 extra months of Netflix out of this deal.

And finally, as someone who doesn't actually want Netflix, it leaves me wondering why *I* am being ripped off.

I will be paying exactly the same for my residential unlimited broadband plan as someone who opts for the free Netflix offer worth $180.

Effectively, I'm paying a $180 no-Netflix tax if I use Spark as my ISP but don't want Netflix.

If Spark's margins are so great that they can afford to give away $180 like this then I want a discount on my service so that the *value* I'm getting is in line with that given to others.

In summary, anyone contemplating taking up this offer should look long and hard at the details and points I've raised here. I'm almost certain that you'll find better deals on the market which will turn out cheaper and won't lock you into a contract without the price-guarantees needed to ensure that you will actually save money.

What do readers think?

How many of you will be leaping at this offer from SparkFlix?

How many are willing to bet that Spark won't hike its prices part-way through the 24-month contract period, so as to claw back all or most of the benefit they seem to be offering?

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