Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Five Slots Itself in to Multichannel

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Five Slots Itself in to Multichannel

Article excerpt

It has been an absolutely great seven days for cracking media stories.

The prospect of former Telegraph owner Conrad Black facing up to 40 years in jail - if convicted of criminal fraud - is enough to put a spring into anyone's step. Then Prince Charles has been silly enough to sue the Daily Mail for breach of copyright, thereby opening an amusing can of worms.

Not surprisingly, BSkyB appears to have beaten the Brussels regulatory rap and will now have to make do with a mere five of the six packages of live Premiership rights on offer.

To add to the general entertainment there has been the news that Boris Johnson is not leaving The Spectator on 8 December, or so he says; 9 December might, of course, be a different matter.

Just for the record, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is neither revising its White Paper on the BBC nor changing the nature of the Trust that will run the Corporation in future, contrary to some reports. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

In such a rich maelstrom of jolly tales the fact that Top Up TV has entered a strategic relationship with Five could easily have passed you by, or produced little more than a momentary yawn.

Even if you have heard of Top Up TV, it all appeared rather dull. Money was not mentioned by the protagonists; nor was the size of the channel's stake or the extent of the strategic relationship.

As everyone knows, there are strategic relationships and then again, there are strategic relationships. Some are little more than a vague aspiration and stutter, soon fail and are quietly interred after a few inconclusive meetings. This one looks rather more important.

With an unerring eye for where the money is, chairman David Chance, the multimillionaire who was Sam Chisholm's number two at BSkyB, has in Top Up TV created what is essentially a basic-tier pay service for Freeview out of nothing. It appeared to spoil the purity of Freeview's marketing line - no extra charges after buying the set-top box - but what the hell: it may be messy but it appears to work. Top Up TV has low costs and a mere handful of staff, and the punters get 11 subscription channels such as Discovery and UKTV Gold for pounds 7.99 a month.

All the signs are that the tiny business will have no difficulty reaching its break-even target of 250,000 subscribers by the middle of next year.

The word is that it is doing surprisingly well. …

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