BSkyB cuts price of Sky Plus in bid to drive sales



BSkyB is to slash the price of its personal video recording service, which allows viewers to pause programmes during live transmission or automatically order a complete series of one show, in an effort to triple the number of subscribers.
The broadcaster is scrapping the £120 a year subscription fee to Sky Plus for customers spending at least £30 a month on its subscription channels

The move, which BSkyB hopes will persuade another 200,000 customers to trade up to Sky Plus set-top boxes by June 2004, is part of a drive by the chief executive, Tony Ball, to increase the amount each customer spends on their Sky package.

Just 105,000 of BSkyB's near seven million subscribers have bought the Sky Plus set-top box, which allows viewers to record programmes on to an in-built hard disk.

It was launched as Sky's answer to the American system, TiVo, but the initial £400 outlay has proved prohibitive for the vast majority of viewers.

Prices of the set-top box were slashed to £199 but growth in the service has still been slow.

BSkyB believes customers have been put off by the hefty subscription fees, which come on top of a £199 charge for the Sky Plus box and a £50 installation fee.

Under the terms of the new offer, which will be accompanied by a major marketing push, customers will be able to use their Sky Digibox in a second room in the house for a £10 a month fee compared with the existing charge of £15 a month.

Extra revenues from Sky Plus would help the satellite group to achieve its target of raising an average of £400 per subscriber every year.

"Five years after launching the UK's first digital TV platform BSkyB is as committed as ever to bringing its subscribers the most advanced television services," said Jon Florsheim, the sales and marketing director of BSkyB.

"By reducing the cost of Sky Plus ownership for our most valuable customers we aim to increase penetration, further stimulate take-up of premium channels and ensure that Sky remains the leading brand in multichannel TV."

The technology, which also allows viewers to pause and rewind live programmes and record every episode of a particular series at the touch of a button, is seen as a key part of its strategy to persuade customers to pay more and remain loyal.

Separately, Sky Digital is also planning to relaunch its movie channels before Christmas.