A Personal Sky Angel IPTV Update

I had a meeting today with the executive team at Sky Angel to discuss a number of issues related to their recent transition from satellite broadcaster to digital IPTV service. As a disclaimer, Cooke Pictures has just signed on to create a new commercial campaign for Sky Angel. But before we start shooting, I wanted to find out what people had been responding to on my blog. As many of my readers know, I’ve written a couple of times on this blog about that transition – long before I met the team from Sky Angel. Readers have been very open about
their experience, and some aren’t happy – and are very vocal about it. So I wanted to share with you a little about my conversation today and let you know how I felt after I left the meeting.

The biggest controversy focused on the “lifetime memberships” that customers purchased as far back as 1974, with the most recent sign up being around 2004. Although the contract was for the “lifetime of the equipment” a number of people are unhappy that contract has ended. The cost varied, and looking at their numbers, anyone who signed up for the service received a good deal – even with the termination. From what I can calculate, no one actually got ripped off or taken advantage of based on the subscriber fees. But I understand that most people’s perceptions were that a lifetime subscription is a lifetime subscription – period. But for the record, the contract is for the equipment.

For those who haven’t received this from the Sky Angel office, here’s the scenario: a technical failure of the EchoStar III satellite moved up their plans to transition to IPTV, probably sooner than they would have liked. Because of the satellite failure, a significant number of channels were in jeopardy, and although they scrambled to find other delivery systems for the service, the options were limited. It would have sunk the company to put their own satellite in orbit, and renegotiation would have been cost prohibitive as well. The truth is, the story would take an entire book to tell, and must say I was impressed with their efforts to keep the service intact, and find alternative ways to keep the company moving forward, providing service to their customers.

That’s when the decision was made to transition to IPTV. The plans had always been there – in fact, those types of plans are at every smart television network in the world. IPTV is an important part of the future, and Sky Angel appears to have always been planning on eventually moving in that direction. But from our conversation today, the choice was to keep the programming line-up and move to IPTV, or potentially sacrifice the company – and customers – by spending hundreds of millions on a new satellite venture.

They chose IPTV.

Now, after a long conversation today, listening to the history, knowing what founder Robert Johnson envisioned, and learning about the future of the service, here are my thoughts:

1) Media is changing. I live in Los Angeles, and nearly everyday I read about a movie studio, television network, or media company experiencing something similar. The only thing we can count on right now is change, and to not expect transitions like this in media is being somewhat naïve. The cable television service I signed up for in the 70’s doesn’t exist anymore, and many media companies that prospered in the 80’s and 90’s are either in financial trouble or out of business. Whether we like it or not, media is changing, and it will be a bumpy ride. Expect some risk. Being a faith-driven company doesn’t take that risk away.

2) While some people will not be able to receive the new IPTV network because of lack of high-speed internet access, I believe what they’ve created is the best possible outcome based on the alternatives. Upon analysis of the situation, I believe they made a solid decision. Nobody is getting rich here. It’s a matter of working within the changing media environment and making a decision that benefits the most customers. There have been some free equipment offers to help offset the change for customers, so no one’s trying to take advantage.

3) Speaking of nobody getting rich, I understand that 100% of the stock will be passed from the founder and his wife to the Dominion foundation. Profits don’t go into anyone’s pockets, but will fund a foundation to pay for the future of the programming service. This isn’t being done to amp up the stock value and then sell to a bidder. It’s being done to keep the network alive. There are no private jets and mansions.

4) From a personal perspective, everyone from Sky Angel in our meeting felt badly about the situation. They wish there was a better alternative, but had to make some tough decisions. These are good people, and after looking at the whole scenario, I think the founder would have made that same decision.

Could the company have communicated the vision better? Perhaps. But from the standpoint of integrity, and short of heaven, there are no guarantees in life. Technology is changing faster than anytime in history, and to assume any service will stay the same over a lifetime simply isn’t realistic.

Is my point of view biased because Cooke Pictures is shooting a commercial for the company? Possibly. But it may be important to note that I have not edited or deleted a single reader’s comment on the blog – even though some of the comments might have been deemed slanderous by many companies.

I have to admit, I am somewhat encouraged that people feel so emotional about the issue. That means Christian media matters to people, and if the delivery of that media changes, they get upset. That frankly gives me hope.

My suggestion? The honest truth is that whatever you think of this particular transition, IPTV is the absolute cutting edge of the media industry today. Multiple channels of radio and television online is a remarkable thing, and many highly funded companies have failed in the attempt. I’ve seen the Sky Angel set-top box, set it up myself, and so far I’m impressed with the result. Of course there will be technology issues and bumps in the road and I’ll keep you posted with my experience. But for me, I’m willing to give it a try, and I would encourage you to do the same. The phones are ringing off the wall for the service, so they’re apparently doing something right.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Phil

    Fred, I’m sorry for the miscommunication.  As I understand it – the Dominion Lifelong agreements were good for either the lifetime of the customer or the life of the “satellite service” whichever came to an end first. I should have communicated more clearly about that in my original post.  The agreement had nothing to do with the “equipment” on your roof or in your home. The Dominion satellite service is ending on March 31st.  Therefore the “Lifelong” agreements with Dominion Sky Angel expire when the satellite service expires – (3 weeks from now).  You’re also right on target about the cost to provide the new service. The new company Sky Angel U.S., LLC can’t give the IPTV subscription away to Dominion customers for free because they must pay for the services required to support each individual customer – (bandwidth, server management, etc…).  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify this point. I couldn’t agree with you more that the Sky Angel team is trying to solve a difficult situation as best they can for the whole community – and in my opinion we need to offer them our prayers and support.

  • Sam

    I've been tracking the responses to the Sky Angel posts on this blog for the last number of months, and I have to say I agree with your opinion about the company. To expect a company to not react and change to market forces – especially in the media business – is simply nuts.  Thanks for this evaluation, and I appreciate your candor.  

    • Darren

      I smell a class action law suit here. I am sorry.
      years of bad box’s and retreives every 5 minutes and then skips and runs very very VERY BAD!
      Checked with my service provider and I have a fairly steady 2.70 average down load spead. It should work and is still not working. Even after paying for the new red lyer box from China.  I love Jesus and hope and pray that he helps solve this problem or I will not have Sky angel any more soon and may seek leagal action against this company.

  • Rev. Edouard S.

    hallelujah

    1hal·le·lu·jah   –  

    Pronunciation:
    \ˌha-lə-ˈlü-yə\
    Function:
    interjection
    Etymology:
    Hebrew hallĕlūyāh praise (ye) the Lord
    Date:
    14th century
    —used to express praise, joy, or thanks
    ———————————————–
    Phil, thanks for this post. I personally am tired of reading all the attacks on Sky Angel. Sky Angel has changed my life and I'm eternally grateful.
    I've had Sky Angel satellite for over four years and now I have Sky Angel IPTV. I loved the satellite service – but I've got to tell you that the IPTV service is even better and was worth every sacrifice that this company had to make. It's a powerful ministry tool and I thank God that the people who run Sky Angel were courageous enough to make the corporate decision to move forward into IPTV. There isn't even any comparison between the two services and I can't imagine why people could be so cruel and resentful when the benefits of the service are so magnificent. They must not be watching any of the programming!
    I also want to mention that the people that I have dealt over the years have been absolutley terrific. I can't say enough about the care and concern they showed when I had questions or technical issues. I'm sure they're not perfect – but I know in my heart that they are staying true to their faith and the original mission that God gave to Mr. Johnson. I received the letter that they sent out to subscribers in January and thought their explanation was very clear and reasonable. I'm not so sure I would have taken the risks they are taking now. May God continue to give them the strength and wisdom to see this through.
    My Wife and I just used the 48-hour lookback feature on Sky Angel IPTV to watch Joel Osteen's episode #378: Don’t Be Limited by the System. What a powerful message! And what a perfect message for the folks at Sky Angel. I hope every one of their managers have an opportunity to watch this program.
    Thanks Phil for sharing this information with your readers. Enjoy your new IPTV sytem – it's truly part of the Change Revolution. Peace.
  • I believe IPTV is the way things are going and I try to work w/ any and all IPTV broadcasters to get my videos (Booples.com) airing on them.

    It's not there yet, but this is the equivalent of getting on cable, DVD, satellite, etc. early so it's time to embrace it.

     See you at NRB!

    • dee windust

      How do I get IPTV so I can continue on with the lineup? Does this mean I have to have a new TV?

      • You just have to have a wireless connection to get IPTV programming, and there are many sources available. Also – check most cable TV systems. Almost all have multiple Christian channels today.

  • Fred

    Phil – Huh?  Subscription was for the equipment?  I don't get that!!! I subscribed before they were up and running – in the early 90s – as a lifetime member.  I didn't get any eqipment when I did that.  I had to buy the equipment myself after they went live.  That money went to the tech store I bought it from, not Sky Angel.  I'd sure love to know how my lifetime sub was for equipment that I never got!!  Please explain.  I was sure I subscribed to support them financially so they could get off the ground, and that my reward was programming – not equipment.

    I'm not bitter at all, and like others, can't get IPTV, but do wonder why they didn't bless their biggest supporters, those who backed them financially before we had any physical evidence of their value.  Why couldn't they have just offered to sell us the equipment and let us maintain our lifetime subs?  Does is cost them for bandwidth going out to each individual customer?  We don't subscribe to any other cable or satellite service because it isn't a value for us to pay that much monthly.  We did enjoy having Sky Angel available when we did watch TV.  We also realize the value of it.

    I am with others though.  Why not offer lifetime subs the opportunity to buy equip and still have service if they could get IPTV?

    I do think that the Sky Angel team is trying to solve a difficult situation as best they can for the whole community.  Like many others though, I have some serious questions that they never answer.  I've tried to communicate with them and just get canned answers that reflect the fact that they never read more than the subject line of my mail.  I guess I have to be a media person important enough to invite to a meeting to get answers.  Doesn't leave one with a warm fuzzy about supporting their brilliant idea in the first place.  

     sigh

  • Dolly

    Rev, I'm happy for you.  Maybe you should say a prayer or two for those of us who are left out in the cold by the switch to IPTV.  Useless equipment we paid for, no Christian programming anymore.  Not all are able to get IPTV, and I think the Sky Angel is just dusting us under the carpet.  I wouldn't go so far as to slander SA, but I would like a little more sympathy than to keep getting mailings pleading me to join IPTV, and people telling me I should because of the great new technological benefits – when I can't get it. 

  • Sheryl

    sorry Phil but you ae buying into sky angels LIES. Before you post any more positive comments I suggest you research the WHOLE truth.

     

    Part of that "equipment" was supposed to include a NEW SATELLITE launched by 2002! Debateable "equipment failure" would not be an issue if sky angel had honored their part.

     

    2nd there are numerous lifetime contracts, many of which clearly state LIFETIME of SUBSCRIBER AND SPOUSE!

     

    3rd equipment is still OPERATIONAL, they SOLD their licenses

     

    4th look into the story behind canada sky angel customers IPTV. they blame the shut off on porn but were aware of the porn for months and did NOTHING. furthermore they shut off customers with NO NOTICE yet continued to bill them!

    5th search for copies of the original infomercial from the founder , bob Johnson regarding sky angel. You might be surprised what they say. in fact why not ask sky angel for a copy of them? if they truly have nothing to hide………….

    did you seriously expect sky angel to say "oh yes we ripped off the lifetimers to make more $"?!

  • Anon

    We've enjoyed Skyangel for years via satellite and are disappointed with the move to IPPTV.

    After receiving a notice that our Sky Angel Satellite Service would close at the end of the month, we called and signed up for the new IPTV service. The box and remote arrived a few days later and, after connecting the box to our 3 meg internet service, the NIGHTMARE began.

    The little problems we could deal with – Formatting; it doesn't fit our tv screen properly. There's over two inches of black space on either side of the picture. The picture itself is extremely dark – We tried to adjust the color and contrast ( As well as sizing ) on our television set — to no avail.

    The big problem???? Every few seconds the programming FREEZES and BUFFERS. My husband and I are FURIOUS — The little bit of time we have to watch tv, we don't want to sit and have to sit and watch it BUFFER, loading every few seconds. Believe me, we're NOT overexaggerating. At least five times per minute it will have to buffer to load a few more seconds of the program. It's frustrating, to say the least.

    We intend to phone Skyangel tomorrow to voice our disappointment. We understand IPTV is new technology — But we're not paying when all it does is buffer.

     P.S. Know anyone that needs a satellite dish, two boxes, and remotes ( One box and remote never used, still in the plastic wrapping ) — We're obviously stuck with it now :(

  • Tim

    Anon – why be furious? Why not just call Sky Angel's tech support before you rant on the blog? I had the same buffering issues when I set mine up too but their tech team was awesome — very knowledgeable, courteous and professional. They have a variety of troubleshooting solutions for you and can even switch your Internet routing to another data center while you're on the phone with them. (Eliminated my buffering immediately!). Re size – it can be adjusted to fit any size television screen or aspect ratio. I had problems with satellite when I first got it and I also had problems with my satellite service over the years as well – dish made me pay $95.00 for each service call plus I had to wait over a week for them to come out plus the guy didn't show up when he was supposed to… I've had issues with computers, anti-virus software, lawn mowers, automobiles, wireless routers, appliances – it's just part of the deal – sometimes you just need a little tech support – it's no big deal. Call them up and let them help you – for free!  then sit back and praise God for the great TV they're offering.

  • Anon

    I'm sorry, Tim – I was furious because we've had it for years, and I didn't want to have to give up Skyangel.

    And do you know what? You were RIGHT.

    Hubby called today and, though they cannot fix the size or color as it's in the channels themselves, they re-routed us through the east coast ( It was buffering as we were going through the west coast ) — and it's working BEAUTIFULLY now. No more buffering! :: Dance ::

    I love the new channel lineup – We have both faith and family packages, and we're just thrilled at having Godtv alone with an even better selection – Weather Channel included.

    Again, my apologies for the anger — and thank you so much for your help.

     

  • Stephen Crowley

    Does anyone know how recording the IPTV signal on a DVD recorder works?  We have often recorded programs to watch weeks or even monthes later with the original Sky Angel service.  I just talked to a Sky Angel customer service rep who said that DVD recorders don't work with the IPTV signal but VCR's do.  If that's true it would be a significant discouragement for many.  I realize some programs have a 48 hr replay feature.  That just doesn't give you enough time.  The multiple recording/watching features of the DISH 625 DVR will be sorely missed.  Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • Linda

    Alas and alack, we were looking forward to watching a bit extra our last week of Sky Angel. . . why don't they just kick us and tell us how much they hate us?  Now, we can't even get the programming guide!!!!  Wonderful geniuses that they are, leaving us out in the rural cold – where Rev, yes line of view is no longer an issue, but lack of high speed internet now makes it so we can't get television service either, thanks IPTV.   They have ALSO decided that instead of seeing the program guide, or program info, we want to see "Important New, Press Info to Read" for all but 4 or 5 channels.  So, what's on Faith?  Who knows, but we can call Dish Network to get Sky Angel's most popular channels after 3/31.  What's on Guardian?  Who knows, but we can call Dish Network to get Sky Angel's most popular channels after 3/31.  What's on Hallmark? Who knows, but we can call Dish Network to get Sky Angel's most popular channels after 3/31.

     

    I know all you who can get IPTV think it is wonderful, and that we should just shut up, suck up and be grateful that we can't get God TV.  Fine for you, I'm happy for you. Stop trying to tell us we should be thankful. But, can't they (Sky Angel) at least let those of us who can't get it, and enjoyed and supported Sky Angel so they could put their own satellite in the air (Yes, they used to say that was their ultimate goal – liars) see the stupid program guide for the last week?! 

     

    Now, I have to get online – (not high speed, remember) to find out what is on.  Guess I'll just unplug the whole thing and swear some :( 

  • Phil

    My last word on the issue is here:
    http://www.philcooke.com/Sky_Angel_Last_Word

  • SY

    I would sure like to know who @ Sky Angel had the answer to your buffering! We live in the MidWest and NO ONE here has heard of Sky Angel but us. The cable company has come out and tested the line and they find no fault in their DSL/Broadband. I have spoken to SA Tech and the only recommendation was to turn the box off (in the back) for 10 mins and turnoff every night by the back not the remote. Alas, we are still experiencing buffering and freezing tremendously – no exaggeration here either!!!!!!! We WANT to keep SA but I cannot continue to pay for something that doesn't work properly…the point was to have safe TV and if we get frustrated and turn on the regular stuff, then what is the point? We were already frustrated, now it's double!

  • Phil

    So you're suggesting that if you're not happy with Sky Angel's "lifetime subscription" you switch to Glorystar's "lifetime subscription?"   :-)

  • SG

    It does not seem it will make a difference how upset everyone is about losing the lifetime subscription.  My suggestion is to check out http://adventistsat.com/shop/.  They have a satellite dish for as little as $179.00 plus shipping, and it is for a lifetime subscription with a large array of TRUE CHRISTIAN PROGRAMMING. 

  • Rick

    Anon   It sounds to me like the internet speed you have is not fast enough to run it

  • Phil

    The truth is, the blog is filling up and we have to close off the discussion thread. Some people are going to choose to be angry and bitter because they think Sky Angel owes them – even though there’s no evidence of that. Others are thrilled the gospel can continue to be broadcast through new technology. Life happens. My car breaks down, my plumbing goes out, and my TV breaks. But I don’t blame people – that’s the way life works. Ultimately you can choose to be bitter and let that anger eat at you, or you can choose to explore new technology, find alternatives, or adjust your lifestyle to the new reality. Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy it.

  • K.R. Hunter

    I have the same problem with Buffering on Sky Angel. Especially with RFD TV. What irks me is I set my VCR for 2AM to record The Presley’s Family Music show and it buffered all out except the commercails on the end of the show. It can not be trusted .
    If it would have done that in the day time,I could have tried recording it later on or tried to watch it. Thats what bothers me.
    I have been a member several years. I have called them many times.
    [email protected]    Thanks for listening.  K.R. Hunter 27534

  • dee windust

    So how do we continue to get Christian Programming. That is the end objective. Lassie and other programs are not the ones we miss the most in this current society…it is the spiritual programs that we need to retain. These ministries are small and possibly want to keep coming into our millions of homes. How they do they doing this without Sky Angel. We are looking not to criticize the move you have to make, but isn’t there someway we can keep Christian Programming alive and enjoy it on demand with the current lineup in a convenient way???

    • SkyAngel is still doing well, and there are many other programming alternatives for Christian content on IPTV. Truli.net, iDisciple, SAVN.TV, and many others have enormous amounts of Christian content available online today.

  • dee windust

    Do I get IPTV through comcast. Yes I have internet and wireless. Will Angel go away totally??? How about other things you might carry? What about The Blaze…do I have to subscribe independently to them now? When you cease operation, the last box I did buy. Is it any good for any future things you might have? Just discard??? Thank you so much for answering. I will miss Sky Angel terribly.. All hours of the day and night with two day to recall. It has been such a blessing!!! It has been a wonderful ride having you for these years. Thanks for any final rememdies.
    1)How do I get IPTV with Comcast
    2) Shall I get independent subscription to Glenn Beck?
    3) Shall I take back the ROKU I just bought as I only bought it thinking I could get Christian TV. They dont have hardly anyting on their line up
    4)Throw away net Sky angel box which is only 2 years old? $90.00 investment.
    I appreciate so much that you have written

  • barb

    Will this affect roko

  • barb

    Is SBN going off Skyangel