Friday, November 05, 2004

Gnomic TV

I haven't been watching very much TV recently, and until today had missed the ad campaign running since September for Top Up TV, which sells a package of additional channels on top of the standard Freeview channel lineup. The service is, however, covered in a feature on digital TV in consumer magazine Which?, where I (and probably many others) have come across it.

As I understand it, the service actually launched in March, but was only available to users of the old OnDigital boxes, which have conditional access card slots. Early Freeview boxes did not contain conditional access slots, but new models on the market since August do. The extra channels on offer are not available throughout the day, which may serve as a disincentive for some prospective subs, but then again the price of GBP7.99 is attractive compared to the basic cable, which is only an option for less than half of UK homes in any event.

As we've tracked recently, the only significant growth in multichannel in the two previous quarters has come from Freeview, which is pushing the 5m units sold mark, and was identified by NTL on Wednesday as the principal driver of analogue churn in Q3. Given that Sky is looking to fight back in the non-premium customer segment with its subscription-free product (interestingly the only mention of freesat in the Sky website is in the jobs section), this Freeview plus offering may make things somewhat more challenging, both for it and the cablecos. I am trying to arrange contact with the management of Top Up Tv to learn more about user numbers and targets, and find it interesting that both top men are former Sky execs.

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