Tag Archives: Sky TV

Sky offers sports channels for £9.99 per day without a contract

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A round of applause for Sky TV this morning please.

Firstly, the financial results are impressive:

The company, which reported six-monthly pre-tax profits up 7.5% to £642m to 31 December, beat most analyst expectations, adding 132,000 broadband customers in the quarter to 31 December.

Consensus City estimates put broadband sign-up numbers at closer to 117,000. BSkyB has 4.2m broadband customers.

The number of customers taking high definition TV rose 93,000 to 4.56m of its total customer base.

A third of BSkyB customers now take a “triple play” of three services such as TV, broadband and line rental.

Revenue rose 5% to £3.5bn in the six months to the end of December, with Sky pushing its interim dividend up 20% year on year to 11p.

Average revenue per user, a key metric monitored by analysts, rose £24 year on year to £568. Churn rose slightly from 9.6% at 31 December 2011 to 10.3% at the end of last year.

Source: The Guardian

Secondly, they are taking an innovative strategy moving forward with their NOW TV product. NOW TV is a contract free, streaming version of Sky Movies. Sky has announced they will soon be adding Sky Sports to NOW TV for £9.99 per day, again contract free.

The commercial model for consumers makes this very interesting. Instead of a Sky Sports subscription with a minimum cost of £42.50, £9.99 per day looks appealing to users who only watch a handful of sports programmes per month.

Even if you throw in longer sports events such as gold events such as the Ryder Cup, NOW TV can still work out cheaper than a monthly subscription.

Consumers can watch NOW TV through a TV using You View or an Xbox 360 as long as users have an Xbox Gold subscription.

This is a courageous move from Sky. I recently moved from BT Vision to Sky because of the sports package, refusing to consider the pirate video route. Although we spend a significant amount on our monthly Sky subscription with HD and some extra channels, I still subscribe to Netflix because of the choice of box sets.

We live in interesting times on the TV front.

Photo courtesy of Brent Flanders on Flickr

How we’ll buy TV channels in the future

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I’ve had Sky TV at home for six months now, so Sky sent me a questionnaire asking for some feedback.

I said that the ordering and installation process was superb. Flawless. Within a month I had all the services installed, working perfectly.

Originally we bought Sky because we want to watch more sport, specifically football, on the telly, and it was getting frustrating not being able to watch it live without Sky. We’d used BT Vision for a few years, but to ‘upgrade’ to just being able to watch Sky Sports was a ridiculous process of upgrading (and paying to upgrade) our set top box.

Over the Christmas holidays I got a free trial to Netflix. My wife and I haven’t watched some of the more popular TV shows such as 24, so for a small monthly subscription, it seemed good value.

We now watch mainly Netflix during the week, with sport on weekends.

It’s amazing to see how far TV has changed from being limited to a handful of channels ten years ago, to multiple subscriptions and hundreds of channels now. And this is on top of our Spotify and Xbox Gold subscription!

I can’t see this model being sustainable. I think the future will see a standardisation across platforms and consumers won’t be forced into multiple subscriptions. A little like you can currently buy various additional channels through Sky.

Maybe we’ll do it through an Xbox style device, maybe through the TV itself (once Smart TVs become smarter).

How the Olympics team delivered London2012.com

Click to watch the London 2012 highlights video

The Olympics is like London buses – you don’t see anything about it for a while, and suddenly you get several opportunities at the same time.

On Monday I was very fortunate to meet with Alex Balfour, who was the Head of New Media at London 2012. If you haven’t seen Alex’s summary of London 2012 on slideshare yet, stop reading this and take a read straight away.

So I saw Alex on Monday, who for a man who has had one of the most stressful jobs in Digital Media for the last three years, didn’t look any worse for it (no grey hair or hair loss!); and this evening I was invited to an event hosted by Simon La Fosse where the guest speaker was Gerry Pennell, the CIO of London 2012.

Gerry spoke for around thirty minutes, which flew by quickly, and then there were literally dozens, dozens of questions from the audience. The thing that struck me was how each member of the audience was so polite and started off by congratulating Gerry and his team on such a successful event. This was refreshing because the IT community doesn’t congratulate one another – IT has such a high expectation that if it works, well, it’s expected to, and anything less is something to complain about.

Gerry described how important digital was such a key component of delivering the Games. Actually, he wanted to stick to ‘just’ the huge undertaking of delivering a live events service, but his presentation kept coming back to digital consumers. All wonderfully consumer focussed.

Some of the other key points he covered:

  • Just under a quarter of LOCOG’s budget went to IT
  • It was easy to motivate his team to get things done – everyone knew about the deadline, rather than many other IT organisations who have a degree of lethargy and motivation issues
  • Gerry’s teams had to create their own requirements four years ago, because the rest of the organisation didn’t know what it would want back then
  • Preparation was key. The team prepared via a large number of test events, scenario planning, disaster recovery planning, and so on
  • LOCOG knew that they were going to have a rough time with the press. He told a story about the day that the BlackBerry Messaging service went down, and a journalist in his office blamed Gerry for the outage!
  • The threat of cyber-attacks was taken extremely seriously, and some politicians were involved on this subject. There were six actual significant attacks during the Games which were dealt with, and Gerry was paid his compliments to their Content Delivery Network
  • To resolve IT issues immediately, rather than the usual IT call-fix resolution timescales, they had to ‘saturate’ the stadia with support staff and equipment – they would replace desktops and equipment rather than problem solve
  • Despite all the IT infrastructure, there is still a huge reliance on paper in the stadia – referees and other games staff wanted/ needed to have a sheet of paper. The last two Olympics have printed 50 million sheets of paper, and in London they produced 16 million. A full box of office printer paper has 2,500 sheets, so that’s still almost 6,500 boxes of paper!
  • LOCOG were shocked at the amount of mobile traffic. And this traffic wanted live results. For the first time, London was able to provide point by point score updates (as opposed to game or match results) – and the peak traffic period was the Murray final, where mobile users wanted point by point updates about the match
  • There were 40 university sandwich placements who worked for the LOCOG IT organisation. I had a sandwich placement in my third year at university, and I can only begin to imagine what an experience the Olympics must have been for these once-in-a-lifetime lucky students

Someone in the audience asked about the huge amount of data that LOCOG had collected during the summer, and whether there was a Big Data opportunity. Gerry answered that the team was disbanded straight after the Paralympics, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity or business desire (because the business was dismantled as well!)

We are seeing a world where the value of content is continually diminishing – there are so many sources of content that it’s easy to move to someone who’s giving it away for free as soon as one source starts charging. Technology also makes it easy to bypass traditional content funding models – such as the ability to fast forward during adverts on pre-recorded TV programmes.

Sport will continually increasing in value though. By its nature, it’s time sensitive, so it’s usually watched live. This makes the advertising much more valuable – for instance, think about the infamous Super Bowl ads.

This in turn makes the content more valuable – and one of the key reasons why the English Premiership’s rights rose 71% this year to over a billion pounds per season.

Sport – it’s only a game. Really???

Broken motorbikes, Sky TV and Office 2013

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Now that the extended holiday season has finally finished, I thought I’d update everyone on what’s been going on recently, or more accurately, what I’ve been up to.

For one thing, I haven’t been cycling a lot recently. After our family summer holiday and really poor weather when we returned, I ended up not cycling for 4 weeks. I then got back on the bike and was shocked how much fitness I’d lost. Fortunately the fitness returned relatively, although my Strava times are still low. 

On the subject of cycling, last summer I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography and loved every page. It was a truly inspirational book especially for anyone with cancer. I am torn between trying to understand that he allegedly cheated, and respecting him for the inspirational he has given so many cancer patients.

I’ve now installed Office 2013 on my work laptop and both home PCs. I’ve only encountered one major problem which was caused during an upgrade process where I clicked on a ‘Next’ button to begin installation. I clicked a couple more times and ended up installing Office three times on the same PC! Not only would none of the Office apps run any longer, I couldn’t uninstall the thing either. After some perseverance I managed to uninstall and reinstall Office again as I described in the Office 2013 forums.

This week I’ve been asked to review a social media report, which I’ll try to do on the weekend and post here. If there’s anything else you need me to review or want my opinion, please contact me, preferably by Twitter.

I had to be home quite early a couple of weeks ago, so I rode to work on my motorbike. I left home extra early and after filling up with petrol the battery had gone and I couldn’t restart the bike. The Green Flag motorcycle breakdown truck arrived in less than an hour and kept me regularly updated by text message – I thoroughly recommend them as a breakdown service.

A couple of days later they sent me a questionnaire to complete and return to them. I can’t remember the last time I completed a paper feedback form, and I don’t understand why they didn’t use an online tool to save costs – and I’d probably have filled it in by now rather than put it on the desk in the ‘to do’ piling tray.

And finally, last but by no means least, the Howard family have finally moved to Sky. It started when I contacted BT Vision, which I’ve defended and promoted to everyone who would listen over the last few years. The tipping point though was calling them to ask for the Sky Sports channels. The increased cost put the service on a par with Sky, which I didn’t mind, but I had to pay to upgrade my BT Vision box to the latest version to accept the Sky Sports channels. I didn’t even mind this, but I was annoyed that even the latest version of BT Vision doesn’t support HD channels. So I compared Sky, Virgin and BT packages. Virgin was about £30 a month more expensive than Sky for what we all wanted. Sky was £10 more than BT Vision if I included the HD channels, which we have gone for.

The most impressive thing about moving from BT Vision to Sky has been the speed and communication. It took three days from ordering online to an engineer coming to the house and installing Sky. The phone line and broadband are due to be switched over on Monday, ten working days after I’d ordered Sky. I keep receiving text messages of the latest status, and it’s all very impressive. Sky even contacted BT to let them know I was leaving. 

I’ll let you know how the phone and broadband transition goes – I already have the router waiting to be plugged in on Monday.