How to lose customers…

Oh what fun. Virgin Media, as ntl:Telewest has renamed itself, is having a bit of a row with BSkyB.

Reading the report suggests that one or both parties are lying weasels. The current state of play is that Virgin are declining to pay BSkyB what they demand for their popular channels, including Sky One. They’re going so far as to say that they can do very nicely without those channels, and they’re going to have other stuff to “make up for it”. There’s a slight odour of bovine waste products about that[1], as Sky One has a tendency to have exclusive rights to programmes that people actually want to watch, such as Lost, 24, and much more significantly, The Simpsons.

If the UK’s only remaining cable operator drops the main Sky channels, we’ll be taking a bold step backwards into last century, when different cable and satellite operators[2] had different sets of channels. This wasn’t at all good for the customers, and eventually things settled down and companies stopped being silly.

But now it seems we’re in for some more silliness. And I think it’s Virgin who will have to back down more than BSkyB. They already suffer from customers leaving them for cheaper deals with Sky, and losing key channels would accelerate that. Sky win either way: they get more money from Virgin, or they get more of Virgin’s disgruntled customers.

I’d hate to have to switch – I don’t want to have a silly dish thingy on my house, and I really don’t want to switch from my cable broadband to ADSL, which quite apart from anything else would involve having to have a BT phone line.[3] I suspect this will all be sorted out, and Virgin and Sky will kiss and make up. But I do wish the people running these companies would Grow up and stop playing silly buggers

[1] :grin:
[2] There used to be two of those…
[3] Dealing with BT is something I really prefer to avoid.

9 thoughts on “How to lose customers…

  1. David

    I hear that sky are pulling there channels from freeview too, I have that in my room btw…
    It seems to me like Sky is tightening its strangle hold on TV.

    It’ll be a sad day when I loose skysports news :sad:

  2. Jonathan

    Sky win either way: they get more money from Virgin, or they get more of Virgin’s disgruntled customers.

    Why, then, should Virgin back down? Your statement highlights the real problem. Murdoch has too much of a monopoly over the media, and something needs to be done about it. It’s bad for competition and bad for consumers.

  3. Les Post author

    That’s exactly why Virgin will have to back down. They can choose not to pay, and hope that their already high churn rate won’t rise too much, and that they won’t have to offer too many customers cheaper deals to persuade them not to go to Sky, or they can pay Sky something close to what they’re asking.

    Murdoch is a very Bad Thing indeed, and unless the government appoints a regulator with the power and the inclination to do something about him, his monopoly will grow. In the absence of that, competitiors who need Sky channels will have to take them on Sky’s terms…

  4. Pingback: Murdoch 1, Branson 0 | Losing it

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