The basic lowdown – the contract for Sky One, Sky News and Sky Travel ran out on March 1st so all 3.3 million VirginMedia cable customers lost these channels.Â Both companies were unable to come to an agreement for an extended contract with VirginMedia claiming that BSkyB were wanting to charge double for the channels and BSkyB claiming that VirginMedia kept rejecting all their proposals.Â Fun fun fun!
Personally (as a VirginMedia customer) I was pretty annoyed at the lost of Sky One – Simpsons, Lost, Battlestar Gallactica, 24 – all exclusives to Sky One in the UK, but VirginMedia did quickly replace the channel (check out the tone of some of the pages!) offering a freebie channel where you could pick from a selection of programs for free (The Office specials, Spooks, Nip Tuck, etc) – while they won’t replace my 24 addiction, the loss isn’t going to switch me to a BSkyB provider.
In the UK we saw a major cable battle back in the 90′s with Sky and BSB going head to head for market share, eventually resulting in a merger, creating Murdoch’s BSkyB that we know today.Â Are we going to see another battle for the UK cable market over the next year or two?
Perhaps not on the scale that both companies might expect.
While back in the 90′s, cable channels really did have a monopoly on TV programs which people were staunchly loyal to, now in good old 2007 a large percentage of people that these programs target have access to broadband and the skills, knowledge and complete lack of care for copyright laws to be able to simply download their favourite episodes – in fact most people I know would rather do that.
I can understand why BSkyB would make life difficult for VirginMedia – Telewest had a wide coverage cable coverage in the UK prior to the NTL deal and now with Virign taking over the group and adding a huge network of brick and mortar retail outlets, mobile phone services and a multitude of other businesses, Branson finds himself positioned pretty well to move his business into the future.Â
While in our industry we watch the development of search engines and online media platforms, I think it is about time we considered checking out the real world and how businesses are adapting themselves for these new emerging markets.Â Consider Virgin’s portfolio:
- Decent share of the home cable market – TV, broadband, telephone.
- Decent share of the mobile phone service market
- Huge range of travel services
- Music festivals, music label
- Finance – loans, credit cards, insurance, etc
- Books, drinks, games, jewellery
- Health clubs, health care
Now how much consumer data can you derive from all that?Â Lots!Â I’ve always admired Richard Branson – he’s an innovative and highly talented businessman and Virgin’s somewhat scathing attacks on BSkyB are an excellent example of his resolution to move his business forward.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Virgin move to become a much more forceful player in the online advertising media industry in the next few years – they have the resources to give Google, Yahoo and MSN a run for their money by more fully integration online advertising spend with offline media platforms.
Definitely one to watch!Â SomeÂ more info here.
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