Magazine article Marketing

Why NTL's Delays Put Digital Cable's Prospects at Risk

Magazine article Marketing

Why NTL's Delays Put Digital Cable's Prospects at Risk

Article excerpt

The disadvantage for digital cable is it isn't ready to live up to the marketing hype

So, what exactly does NTL stand for? 'No Time Left'? 'Nearly Too Late'? Digital cable is finally worming its way into the nation's households, but all the signs are that the massive delays in its arrival have nearly strangled it at birth.

SkyDigital is incredibly well-established, with almost five million homes enjoying a huge range of channels, home shopping, e-mail and other services via Open, with more channels arriving weekly on the digital satellite platform.

ONdigital has reached nearly one million homes and is now offering interactive services, including internet access and e-mail.

Against this picture of success, digital cable is having to position itself as a competitive offering, but hasn't yet been able to deliver the goods. Digital cable does not offer the wide range of stations that are available on digital satellite, nor the interactive services available on both digital satellite and digital terrestrial, and yet it is more expensive on average to the consumer on a monthly basis than either of its rivals.

The other major disadvantage for digital cable is that it simply isn't ready to live up to the marketing hype. For years digital cable has seemed to be the best long-term bet in digital TV, given its 'return path' cap abilities, offering the promise of interactivity.

So for two years I have resisted the blandishments of Sky, ONdigital and others and patiently awaited the arrival of digital cable in my own household.

The big day supposedly came last week, but an old bugbear of the cable industry resurfaced. We're talking laughable customer service once again.

The full gory story involves the failure to arrive of one set of the two engineers needed (to install unwanted, but free, telephone sockets),and a software fault that necessitated another visit. …

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