Founded by Terry Jarvis, Craig Heatley, Trevor Farmer and Alan Gibbs in 1987 as Sky Media Limited.

Sky Media Limited originally formed to investigate the possibility of beaming sports programming into clubs and pubs using high performance 4 metre satellite dishes by Jarvis and an engineering associate Brian Green but was redirected into pay television following successful bidding in 1990 for four groups of UHF frequencies in the Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga regions.

The first Sky subscriber was former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Jonathan Hunt, according to Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand.


As of 30 June 2010, SKY had a total of 802,397 subscribers, representing a residential household penetration of approximately 47.9%. SKY has consistently grown its subscriber base year-on-year since it first began broadcasting in 1990, with an annual growth of approximately 2% over this time.

Overview of the New Zealand television industry

There are approximately 1.6 million households in New Zealand [1]. Providing television services to these households are two major free-to-air broadcasters, several smaller UHF operators and SKY, New Zealand’s principal nationwide pay television provider and owner of free-to-air channel, PRIME.

Government owned TVNZ is New Zealand’s largest television broadcaster with a combined 45.3% audience market share [2] through its two free-to-air channels, TV ONE and TV2. New Zealand’s other major free-to-air broadcaster is MediaWorks, which broadcasts two channels (TV3 and C4) nationally and has an combined audience market share of approximately 17.9%. [3] Other free-to-air broadcasters include SKY’s free-to-air channel, PRIME, which has a 5.8% audience market share, [4] MTS, Trackside and a number of local UHF broadcasters which each have a small market share.

As at 30 June 2010, SKY’s pay television services had a residential household penetration of approximately 47.9% [5] and an audience market share of approximately 26.4%.[6]

Under agreements with the broadcasters concerned, all the major free-to-air television channels – TV ONE, TV2, TV3, and C4 - are available on SKY’s digital satellite service.

SKY provides all TelstraClear’s pay television content through a reseller and retransmission agreement. TelstraClear transmits SKY programme content via its cable network to customers

in the Wellington and Christchurch regions. SKY also has reseller and retransmission agreements with Telecom and Vodafone.

In June 2006, the Government established Freeview, to transition all free-to-air broadcasters from analogue to digital transmission. This is a hybrid terrestrial/satellite platform with satellite broadcasting commencing in May 2007 and the terrestrial broadcasting in April 2008.

Freeview content comprises all the major free-to-air channels including PRIME, plus Te Reo and TVNZ channels TV6 and TV7 and several regional channels.