Streaming services Neon and Lightbox will merge next month. So what does this mean for your favourite shows? Tara Ward finds out.
What’s happening to Neon and Lightbox?
In December 2019, Sky announced the purchase of Lightbox, the entertainment subscription service formerly owned by Spark. Sky’s plan was to merge Lightbox with its own streaming on-demand service Neon by mid-2020, creating a new “supercharged” streaming service they claim will be “the biggest 100% New Zealand owned paid-entertainment platform”.
When will this blessed union take place?
July 7, 2020.
So, no more Lightbox then?
That’s right. When the new-look Neon launches next month, Neon and Lightbox’s catalogues of TV shows, kids programming and movies will be combined into a single app. There’ll be more to watch in one place, basically. Sky says the refreshed Neon app will look similar to the existing Lightbox app, but Lightbox’s yellow branding will be replaced by Neon green.
The new Neon will also include some of the better features of Lightbox’s platform, meaning users can “download and go” selected shows to tablets and phones, create profiles to personalise their viewing experience, and rent blockbuster movies for a small, one-off price. Lightbox customers will be able to view selected movies as part of their monthly subscription, which they couldn’t do previously.
Sure, but can I still watch Outlander?
Don’t panic, Jamie Fraser is not going through the stones. Your favourite Lightbox shows won’t disappear, they’ll just turn up alongside Neon’s powerhouse HBO dramas, classic boxsets and recent-release movies, plus the odd episode of Naked Attraction.
Naked Attraction! Won’t someone think of the children?
Of course. Neon will feature The Kids Area, a safe space of child-friendly content that includes shows like Dora the Explorer and Paw Patrol. Existing Neon customers will need to reset their parental settings on launch day.
So if the new Neon is bigger and better, will the price be bigger and better, too?
Neon’s monthly sub stays at $13.95 (an increase of $0.96 for Lightbox Standard customers), while Spark customers can add Neon to their account and pay a discounted rate of $9.95 per month.
But I’m a Spark customer who gets Lightbox for free, and I love free things.
Then colour you surprised, because Neon will be free for Spark customers until July 28. Customers who watch more than 3 hours of Neon between July 7-26 will automatically have Neon added to their Spark account. If you don’t want Neon on your account at all, you need to opt out with Spark before July 26 to avoid being charged.
What else do I need to do?
Not much, really. On July 7 the Lightbox app will be replaced by an updated Neon app, and existing Neon customers may need to download or refresh the Neon app on their smartphone, smart TV or tablet. Lightbox customers can use their existing log-in to access Neon.
Neon will email Lightbox and Neon customers closer to launch day to confirm the general changes to their account. Terms and conditions will also change.
What if I’m both a Neon and a Lightbox subscriber?
If your subscriptions are registered under the same email address, Neon will merge your details into a single subscription on July 7. If you’re subscribed to both services under different email addresses, Neon recommends synchronising your details now to avoid ending up with two accounts.
Do I need to be a Sky subscriber to get Neon?
Anything else I need to know?
If you’re a Neon subscriber, your watchlist and bookmarks will take a couple of weeks to be merged over to the new platform, and device lists will be cleared.
Lightbox customer settings will be carried over to new Neon, including profiles.
What if I have more questions?
Visit Neon’s detailed FAQ page, which explains what the merge means for Neon subscribers, Lightbox subscribers, subscribers of both services, and Spark customers.