20aug new neon hero
Research report
6 August 2020

The new Neon TV reviewed

What to know about the new and improved Neon TV service.

Late last year, Sky bought the Lightbox streaming video service from Spark and merged it with its Neon service.

The new Neon has been running for a month and is much better than its previous incarnation. It’s got newer TV series, shows that go up hours after screening in the US, and new-release movie rentals.

In terms of content, Neon is basically Aotearoa’s version of the HBO streaming service in the US. It’s got all the latest HBO shows like Last Week Tonight, Perry Mason and His Dark Materials, alongside recent movie releases. This is alongside other content from the UK, such as David Attenborough docos and shows like Naked Attraction.

The deals done by Sky mean that Neon has series not available on other platforms. I had joined Neon before the change so I could watch the show Supernatural (and stuck around to keep watching movies and other shows).

On the flip side, the amount of the content is fairly shallow. The TV documentary and reality section, for example, only has 45 titles, and the documentary movie section only adds another 27. If you’re a fan of horror there’s even less to choose from.

But it’s not the injection of extra content that has improved Neon the most in my opinion, it’s all the new features.

Neon’s now available on more TVs and set-top boxes, and the apps have all been given a spruce up to be more like what you’d expect from a modern video streaming service, with a better interface and design. There’s even closed captioning for those with hearing difficulties.

However, captioning is only available on 19 TV shows and one movie, which is frankly atrocious considering other services have it on nearly all their content.

So should you sign up? Yeah, of course. Neon has a 14-day trial period so you can see if there’s stuff you’d want to watch.

Beyond that, streaming services aren’t big yearly contracts you can’t get out of. You can literally sign up for a month, watch a full series, then pause your subscription and switch to another service – there’s so much freedom.

Stay in the know

Keep up-to-date with Consumer's latest news, investigations and product and service reviews, plus join the Consumer panel with invitations to take part in surveys.

Member comments

Get access to comment

08 Aug 2020
Subtitles #2

Like Peter M. I also rely on subtitles (closed captions) - it is a pity that NZ is not required to provide them like in the US. Going a bit off-topic but it is quite frustrating that movies at the cinemas with closed captions are getting fewer and fewer. There are at least two movies currently showing that I would like to go and see but can't as they do not have captions. Given that there are thousands of hearing impaired people in NZ this ought to be an issue that Consumer could advocate for on our behalf.

Peter M.
08 Aug 2020

I rely heavily on subtitles so won’t be engaging with Neon at this stage

Sue D.
08 Aug 2020

Much better content than Netflix and cheaper.

Susan S.
08 Aug 2020
Cheaper with Spark

We have Neon and Netflix as addons to our Spark account. Netflix is way cheaper this way. I still prefer the range available on Netflix and no extra charges for all movies.

Graham D.
08 Aug 2020

Is all Neon content available to Sky subscribers?

08 Aug 2020
Is all of Neon available for Sky subscribers?

I asked the same question from Neon and was told the content on Neon was available to Sky subscribers if they joined and paid for Neon.

Consumer staff
10 Aug 2020
Neon and Sky

Neon is owned by Sky but is a separate service. So you'd need a Neon subscription to watch what's on there.

If you're asking if the same content is on Sky, I can't answer that, but I can say a Neon subscription is much cheaper.

Hadyn Green
Senior Tech Writer