Sky: was pay, now some free

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net1

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#1
BSkyB is to launch a package of up to 200 free channels to counter the growing threat from Freeview, the rival service backed by the BBC offering 30 channels for no fee.
In a major change of policy, BSkyB is abandoning its "pay-TV only" service and trying to appeal for the first time to satellite "refusniks" who have never been attracted to the concept of subscription TV.

Up to now viewers who wanted satellite TV were obliged to buy into a package of channels in order to get services such as the BBC that were otherwise free through an aerial.

The new service will be available for the cost of the installation of a satellite dish and receiver - around £150 - and allow viewers to pick up the five terrestrial channels and other stations including BBC3 and BBC4 without having to pay a subscription.

It is the first time since the satellite giant launched more than 10 years ago that it has reached out to those who don't want to pay for movies and sport, BSkyB's most popular and most expensive services.

What's on offer in the new Sky package

The package will include ITV, BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, CBBC, CBeebies, News 24, BBC Parliament, Channel 4, Channel Five, ITV News, CNN and scores of other channels, although most of these are of minority interest such as Extreme Sports.

The move is the brainchild of the BSkyB chief executive, James Murdoch, and marks his first major strategic initiative since joining the pay-TV giant last year.

Analysts and rivals have been waiting anxiously to see how Mr Murdoch would cope with the twin challenge of increasing Sky's average revenue per subscriber while continuing to attract new customers who up until now have been uninterested in pay-TV.

The runaway success of the BBC-backed Freeview service, which offers 30 channels for a one-off fee of around £80, has increased the pressure on BSkyB.

Figures released earlier this month by media regulator Ofcom showed Freeview was now in more than 3.5 million homes and its growth continued to outpace pay-TV.

Mr Murdoch will hope the launch of a free-to-air alternative on satellite, offering access to more channels than Freeview and with added interactivity, will persuade potential customers to pay a one-off fee of £150 and no monthly subscription.

"These initiatives are another step in giving consumers a choice from Sky that suits their needs at the top and lower ends of the scale. They will help drive even greater take-up of digital TV services and enable Sky to enjoy a close relationship with even more customers," said Mr Murdoch, who controversially replaced Tony Ball as Sky chief executive last year.

Today's moves are designed to reassure investors concerned at recent figures showing that Sky's subscriber growth had slumped to its lowest level since 1998 that Mr Murdoch can retain the initiative his predecessors have shown in making Sky the pre-eminent pay-TV platform.

The new package will prove attractive to those households, particularly in rural areas, that can't receive Freeview or require an arial upgrade in order to do so.

And once they have a Sky dish installed, the company hopes they will eventually upgrade to pay-TV. BSkyB, 35.3% owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, will also hope to make money from interactive revenues.

The move will also be welcomed by the government and Ofcom as a significant step forward in plans to switch off the analogue signal by 2010. Earlier this year the regulator identified the lack of a viable free-to-air satellite service, filling in the gaps in coverage, as one of the main barriers to digital switchover.

While customers can already buy a dish and box from Sky without subscribing, the company has ironed out the flaws that made it an unattractive option for those considering switching to digital.

New free-to-air customers will receive access to all five existing terrestrial channels through the Sky electronic programme guide.

ITV, Channel 4 and Five have been unavailable to free-to-air satellite viewers since last year when the BBC made all its channels free to air and stopped paying for the "solus" cards required to watch the terrestrial channels.

Under the new offer, Sky will provide a viewing card to allow viewers to watch the correct regional variant of all the existing terrestrial channels plus over 200 free-to-air channels, including the likes of CNN and QVC.

In a separate initiative, BSkyB also unveiled plans to launch the UK's first high definition TV - HDTV - service to appeal to the big spending, early adopter end of its subscriber base.

With the boom in home cinema, widescreen TV and hard disk recorders like Sky Plus, Mr Murdoch hopes the new format, which offers pin-sharp pictures, will appeal to a significant minority of its customers.

HDTV has already taken off in the US, where a number of sport, drama, entertainment and news shows are already made in the format. Sky hopes the new service, not due to launch until 2006, will encourage subscribers to pay a premium to receive channels and one-off events, such as big football matches, in the new format.

Having ruled out plans to launch a free-to-air competitor to ITV and Channel Five, Mr Murdoch has pledged to continue to grow Sky's subscriber base beyond the 8 million figure targeted by next year.

Mr Murdoch insisted there were still 10 million potential pay-TV customers to target as the country moves towards digital switchover.
 
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devonbrown

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#2
Do you know if there will be any difference between what can be received just now(with the addition of a solus card) and what is being offered as new?
 
PaulR

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#4
Do you know if there will be any difference between what can be received just now(with the addition of a solus card) and what is being offered as new?
From what I can see it will be EXACTLY the same as the Solus card even down to the regional coding for BBC1/2/ITV according to your postcode.

PaulR
 
Analoguesat

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#5
200 channels eh? Lets see......

- over 50 shopping tv channels
- at least 70 radio stations you wont listen to because they dont appeal to your music taste
- 20 odd BBC1 regions which are all the same most of the day

Anyone see a distict flaw in the argument here?? :D
 
rolfw

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#6
Several people have quoted from or mentioned a list, but to my knowledge Sky have not released any details yet.
 
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Snr_Paul

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#7
How is this all gonna work?
Will I need to get another Solus type card to watch the new stuff on my digibox?
Will I need a card in the box at all?

?
 
T

theReindeer

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#8
By all accounts it's rather FTV than FTA. Digibox + original card + 1 off fee required.
 
cjgall

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#9
Its going to be the same as the old solus card, the old solus and ex-subscriptions cards will continue to work I guess. I for one welcome the scheme, 150 quid for digibox with card and installation is a bargain. I know this is about twice the cost of freeview, but the quality on dsat is second to none.
 
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theReindeer

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#10
cjgall said:
I for one welcome the scheme, 150 quid for digibox with card and installation is a bargain ....
Wud it be possible to order this from abroad for 150 quid +p&p.
The installation I can make myself, as I did it with H-5400, Xtreme Ucas,
DreamBox and SkyStar1 ;)
How about original Digibox and DiseqC 1.0 (or higher ?).
Will Central Europe be covered by the respective sat beams too ?
I know the probs with 2D outside the UK mainland.
 
rolfw

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#11
I don't for one minute think that they will make this offer available outside the UK, I would also put money on the requirement of telephone connection. If they don't require telephone connection, I can see a huge proportion of these going overseas in the first few weeks of the scheme.
 
cjgall

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#12
theReindeer said:
Wud it be possible to order this from abroad for 150 quid +p&p.
The installation I can make myself, as I did it with H-5400, Xtreme Ucas,
DreamBox and SkyStar1 ;)
How about original Digibox and DiseqC 1.0 (or higher ?).
Will Central Europe be covered by the respective sat beams too ?
I know the probs with 2D outside the UK mainland.
We don't really know anything about this package yet, but I doubt Sky will be selling it abroad. No doubt there will be ways of getting your hands on one though.

Sky Digiboxes don't like switches and the like. I had mine on a rotor for a while and used my 'normal' receiver to turn the dish. I now use a bisat with a twin lnb pointing at 28E and a single pointing at 18E. My digibox has its own cable running from the twin. I also have a switch for 28E and 19E, this goes to my normal receiver for the Dutch canaaldigitaal package and the BBC etc.
 
PoloMint

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#13
Another big, seemingly yet unanswerable question is will the cards be available without getting the £150 install deal, for use on second hand digiboxes, and if so what will the cost be?

If they are available that way (which is also less likely to have a telephone line connection as part of a contract) there will be an even bigger race to get them across Europe to the people stuck with old, useless, first generation FTV cards.
 
cjgall

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#14
I have seen no mention of the cards being available seperately. If they do become available I wonder what they will cost.

The CanalDigitaal cards here in Holland cast between 68-75 euro's plus about 20 euro's registration fee. On top of that you can optionally pay 19,95 per year for automatic reactivation and guarantee, if you opt not to pay this you must reactivate the card each year by phoning an expensive 0800 number.
 
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dave branson

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#15
funny,i just paid 78 euros on an accept giro to re-new my c+ card for dutch tv.
 
cjgall

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#16
I was revering to the settop-box package only, which to all intents and purposes is free. If you are subscribed to the basic package, outside Holland and are using a 3rd party company then this may explain the 78 euro charge.
 
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dave branson

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#17
Actually i have a house in Holland and the card is registerd to my address there.and the subscription is with c+
 
cjgall

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#18
I was refering to the settop box backage in my post.

You must be paying for the basic package (basis packet) yearly: 6.50 per month which comes 78,- euro's, the settop box package is free when you subscribe to the basic package. I don't have the basic package so I just pay the optional 19,95 per year.

see: http://www.canaldigitaal.nl/content.asp?id=20&t=pakketten&pakket=16
 
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dave branson

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#19
We use the cable in Holland,gives us the channels which the c+ card provides in italy
for which we use a satellite receiver and Aston cam, together with a 60cm dish.
With regards to BBC ch4/5 ect,i have a Solus card and digibox,for Sky we have a Sky
Italia package costig 55 euro/month,with 90% of the programming in english for Films
sport ect.in fact i think Sky UK is a bit of a rip off with all its marketing tricks,as the Italian mentality is different,i doubt that some of the tricks they pull(reading the various forums) that will be accepted here.
As for the coming Sky free to air packages,i doubt they will replace the FTV (Solus cards), which have been issued prior, to the service of providing the last issue was
stopped.
 
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