Magazine article Marketing

BSkyB Takes the Lead in the Digital Toe-to-Toe Fight

Magazine article Marketing

BSkyB Takes the Lead in the Digital Toe-to-Toe Fight

Article excerpt

There was an unmistakable triumphalism in the air when BSkyB produced its first real numbers for digital television - and most of it was probably justified.

The 350,000 sales figure was impressive enough in its own right and higher than most expectations. The fact that 120,000 of the total were new subscribers was even better news. Perhaps most remarkable of all was the fact that chief executive Mark Booth was prepared to stand in front of the assembled ranks of analysts and journalists and set a target of one million digital satellite homes by October, the first anniversary of digital.

"That's brave. They must know something. They're not stupid," muttered one analyst before rushing off to mark up the BSkyB shares.

"That's high. We were only forecasting 600,000," admitted Neil Blackley from Merrill Lynch.

There was of course more: the slick presentations on the interactive services to be launched in the spring, the fact that the approval rating of digital customers is 25% higher than existing analogue subscribers and the plan to offer free internet access later this year. It's almost overkill. You want to tell them not to spend so much of their money.

It has therefore to be admitted without too much of a curmudgeonly show of journalistic cynicism that BSkyB, a sister company of The Times, has had a very good start to the digital revolution. There is the small matter of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigation of the Manchester United deal and the Restrictive Practices Court case over the TV football rights, and the total net growth of satellite subscriptions was not so impressive. …

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