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Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by Pessable, Jan 14, 2008.
A few points on the above:-
1) Sky could modify their software in a jiffy to provide an option where only the channels a customer's smart card setup allows them to receive are actually displayed. To be honest I find it shocking that Ofcom have not mandated this given Sky's continued FTV control over C4 and Five and Sky blatantly using it as a way to try and punish anyone not signed up to at least all 6 basic Sky Mixes. There is even currently a ruddy great banner on each Sky Mix channel you don't subscribe to saying you can watch it for another £1 per month extra. Chances are Sky may enable the function to turn off displaying channels you aren't covered to watch if BBC Freesat (BBC being the main protagonist in this setup even if ITV is reluctantly following along so as not to be left out) looks like it is a threat.
2) I still think Sky can kill BBC Freesat by bribing Five in some way to remain encrypted FTV (how do you then explain as a salesman a BBC Freesat box with no five channels to the technically unwashed) and by making more Sky channels like Sky News (currently FTV) and Sky Sports News (currently in a basic pay mix on Sky bit free on Freeview) FTV on satellite. They may also do this (go FTV) with Sky One or Sky Two on a short term basis for a year two in order to try and kill off BBC Freesat, even though I'm sure in the long run Sky One would not remain FTV.
3) On the other hand if the BBC box has a better tuner and a bigger dish and can receive a load of worthwhile FTA channels not available on a Sky box then perhaps they have a chance of differentiating themselves. However having recently used a new Euro sat box out in Spain with a 90cm dish that could pick up Euro wide oriented broadcasts on 19 degrees and 28 degrees East (but not UK focused broadcasts as the communal dish installed by the German owners was too small to get these) I can honestly say that out of about 900 FTA channels on the two satellites there was nothing additional in English that a Sky Digibox does not also manage to get that was worth having.
The only thing which can really make the BBC Freesat work is the angle of it being the way to get FTA HD broadcasts from the Beeb, C4 and ITV without paying Sky a penny piece. FTA HD broadcasts are a killer app that would make many customers consider getting BBC/ITV, Freesat even though they have a Freeview box already.
This is a weird anomaly isn't it. My Dad even has SkySports but doesn't get Sky Sports News, unless he switches to the Freeview tuner built into his new telly!
The other thing that may have an impact on Sky is the fact that their Sports "Battering Ram" (Rupert's words) is being softened by the introduction of competition into sports rights. About 10 years too late but better late than never. You never know, a FTA outfit might even pick up a few live Premiership games in the future.
But no more than UK History, TMF, The Hits, Virgin 1, E4 and More4 all being FTA on Freeview but requiring subscription to one of the basic pay mixes on Sky to view them. Also no more than C4, Five, Five US, Five Life and Sky Three all being totally FTA on Freeview but being FTV (and so requiring both a Sky Digibox rather than any other non Sky approved satellite box and an active Sky viewing card) in order to watch them on Freesat.
So you are saying your dad pays out for Sky Sports but saves himself £1 per month on the News Mix that includes both Sky Sports News and British Eurosport? Doesn't seem altogether rational behaviour by your dad if he likes sport and/or football that much?
I had noticed Freveiew strangeley enough. However I don't think its a a valaid comaparison as it wasn't a matter of Freeview competeing with On Digital and winning; On Digital went bust then after a few months, Freeview was launched.
Free is quite powerful obviously, but for most folks Freeview was/is a no brainer - plug in a cheap box and get loads more channels for nothing, great.
Freesat is much less clear cut. For one thing you need a full dish installation, which not only expensive but a major hassle. And at the end of it you get a set of channels which is not obviously superior, HD aside, from what you get with a £30 Freeview box.
If you are going to the hassle of getting dishes installed, cable runs laid etc, why would you spoil the ship for a ha'por'th of tar and not get a box which can provide PPV movies and be upgraded with a phone call to get other channels should you decide you want them? Doesn't seem a rational decision.
The only plus I can see is getting some HD content via FreeSat, but should that look like gaining traction, some tweaks to the Sky HD minimum package could sort that out.
Couldn't give a toss if it succeeds or not; just don't think it will.
Unless you have absolutely no intention of paying for television.
Many of us don't see why we should pay for something that has been free (license fee not withstanding) for decades.
Many of us are also skinflints.
I am also in the "less is more" camp.
The modern mantra of "choice" to me means more crap I have to wade through to find what I want.
Indeed, but are said skinflints going to go for the expense of a satellite system when a £30 Freeview box is just as good?
Our inlaws live just a few miles from Emley Moor. Unfortunately, on the wrong side of a hill. They are really looking forward to freesat.
The point of the matter, but which TCM so pedictably is completely unable to see because of his consistent position that there is nothing wrong with access to the digital satellite platform in the UK being almost totally an utterly controlled by Sky, is that in the minds of the British public satellite means Sky so also means pay tv. Also this is then further compounded by the fact that until a year or so ago you could not get access to any digital channel from BBC, ITV, C4 or Five on satellite without having a Sky Digibox with NDS decryption capability and an acommpanying valid Sky viewing card. A Eurosat digibox was no use to you due to FTV encryption on satellite of the main digital channels from the conventional UK originally terrestrially baseds broadcasters.
The net result of that situation is that Sky is able to command ransom prices for an FTA channel appearing in Sky's EPG and without a Sky EPG listing then under the current uk market conditions for satellite in effect that channel may just as well not exist from a customer takeup point of view.
The reason that Sky charges exorbitant prices for an FTA EPG listing is precisely so that most budget satellite tv channels are then forced to acquiesce in agreeing to become part of one of Sky's pay Mixes so as to derive just about enough subscription related income from Sky in order to be able to pay back most or all of the said exorbitant Sky EPG charges.
The net result of this deplorable situation is that generally the only people who get satellite in the UK, amongst the great unwashed and technologically unaware masses, are those who accept the pay tv proposition. And although Freesat From Sky exists at £150 it is overpriced by at least £50 in relation to what you get and the contract terms are also abusive in that even after paying £150 Sky then makes you sign a 12 month contract for at least £12 x 16 if you ever want to watch just one Sky pay channel. This rather defeats the object of having the NDS decryption card slot on your box that TCM seems to see as being such a bonus.
On top of all this the latest "flow" design Sky boxes also have a bright blue Sky lit up logo in the middle of the front of the box that you cannot turn off and that is subliminally constantly burning the msesage "digital satellite is from Sky" in to your brain for as long as you own it.
As to the price of Freesat Sky is now offering Sky Pay Once Watch Forever for only £75, although obviously in the hope that many of the customers will leave their direct debit in place when 6 months are up (Sky will not now activate the viewing card without a direct debit being put in place on the revised Pay Once Watch Forever deal they recently relaunched) even though you can canel at the end of the 6 months if you keep a careful note in your diary. But to manage to cancel you have to have Herculean strength of will as Sky will try to do everything to stop you cancelling.
Unfortunately it appears that life long died in the wool Sky subscriber TCM is totally unable to comprehend that digital satellite need not be like this and that access to FTA digital satellite need have nothing whatsoever to do with Sky.
TCM also ignores the OnDigital example, which was that in OnDigital's day there were far less FTA channels on DTT than there are now and only the sudden launch of cheap mass market FTA only Freeview boxes without a card slot (and with therefore an effective prohibition on being able to view pay tv) then caused the blossoming and subsequent fast growth of the now highly successful Freeview DTT concept. Whereas if ITV/OnDigital had stayed in business they would have no more than 2 million customers (rather than the current 8 million+) as most people going for pay tv would go for Sky where there is a lot more channel choice. OnDigital would always have remained restricted to just those who could not get a satellite signal and IPTV would slowly have ensured that the inability to erect a personal satellite dish problem largely disappeared in the end. Not to mention the launch of Sky's Free Shared Dish communal dish scheme for small blocks of flats in late 2005.
The point which TCM so conveniently and yet I am sure also quite deliberately ignores is that if Freesat boxes are fitted in UK homes in large volumes and the fitter does not also have to travel far between each address the cost can be driven way down to a price that is much cheaper than upgrading a non compatible analogue tv aerial in a weak reception area to be able to receive all Freeview channels (the correct comparison to make rather than just the cost of a Freeview box).
If Freesat takes off and has its own EPG and the main terrestrial broadcasters are all available on it there are loads of other minority FTA channels that cannot currently afford a Sky EPG listing but that will be keen to start services on Astra and get a near free listing in the Freesat marketing coalition's new EPG. In combination with the lure of a wide range of FTA HD channels on the medium Freesat therefore has every prospect of taking off, especially if it develops a reputation for a much wider range of conventional FTA channels than Freeview plus a wide and increasing range of FTA HD channels (many not available on Freeview).
Unfortunately TCM's mindset does not seem even vaguely open to any possibility other than that the current UK pay tv digital satellite model he already knows and I must say I do find it a little odd and inexplicable that someone in this forum who is normally so open minded and so prepared to see the likely technological future only seems to see the uk satellite tv world through the special Sky provided rose tinted spectacles that were no doubt thrown in for free with his last copy of the Sky monthly magazine.
I'm sure could make your points without personal attacks on other Forum members, Pete.
I see it as being more of a robust form of discussion that both he and I usually seem to enjoy.
If I thought that TCM was more of a shrinking violet type or in any way likely to be offended I would not have commented in precisely that way. However in my experience TCM will be more than prepared to and indeed will enjoy defending his position regarding the reasons why he thinks digital satellite in the UK should be allowed to remain almost wholly dominated by Newscorp/Sky.
You are completely misunderstanding me, as ever, Pete.
I am in no way saying that Freesat is bad or should fail. I'm saying that in my judgement take up will be extremely low.
In my view the benefits offered by Freesat over the alternatives (Freeview or Freesat from Sky) are marginal if they exist at all, outside of HD programming. And the whole project is running so late that the one market they could exploit (those who can't get Freeview) will be gone by the time they get their act together.
I've nothing against it, it just isn't going to work on anything but a tiny "fulfilling the BBCs free access legal obligation" scale.
The EPG stuff is just nonsense; no minority channel could possibly afford to try to exist on ad revenue from Freesat alone and to ignore the 8m+ people who access satellite via the Sky EPG, so they would still have to pay the Sky EPG fee, and possibly pay twice unless the Freesat EPG is to be free to broadcasters. As for the EPG fees being extortionate, that are I believe around £6,000 a month, which doesn't sound unreasonable for access to said 8m potential viewers.
In your previous post you said you could not understand the point of a satellite box that could not also access the full range of pay satellite services in case you wanted them. Yet the point of it is clearly to exert marketing pressure on more channels who are only marginal about being in a basic Sky pay Mix to instead make the decision to go FTA (because there are now more FTA box vieweres who can only view FTA channels and thus are more likely to view their channel)
I agree that due to earlier regulatory incompetence in allowing Sky to control the whole business of encrypting the signals of FTA channels as FTV to stop them being received outside this country in countries which they do not have the rights to broadcast the programs in (a problem now solved at least in legal terms by the more tightly focused Astra 2D beam) that Sky now has a very dominant position in digital satellite that it will be difficult to break in to.
I think the BBC's thinking (and it is the BBC who have led this project even if ITV are jumping on the passing FTA bandwagon) is that HDTV means that most people with satellite receivers will need to replace them and that many people with those satellite receivers have had them so long that they have by now often begun to be annoyed about having to pay so much to Sky in subs and in many cases realise that they hardly ever watch many of the channels in the Sky Mixes for which they are paying.
Thus with many satellite box owners in the process of considering replacing their satellite box anyway due to HD and with them also having heard about Sky+ but not yet got round to doing anything about it now is the perfect time to spring out with Freesat with free access to a wide range of HD channels and PVR facilities too for no monthly sub.
Now I agree with you that Sky has such a stranglehold in the UK that it may be very difficult for this marketing dream to work in practice as Sky may respond by making Sky One available FTA for a period and cutting the price of its Freesat below the BBC/ITV product to try to scupper it. Also Sky may be prepared to so something very bold like a free Sky HD box and install with access to a load of HD channels including premium etc free for the first 6 months but then with a contractual requirement to also take the same Sky HD package at £39 per month or whatever for another 6 months after that. £234 is still just about enough to pay for the Sky HD box and install and also well and truly scuppers the BBC by leaving a Sky HD box with card slot in people's homes.
So I agree the BBC/ITV project faces an uphill struggle here but if its marketing pitch is getting access to HD services that are not available on Freeview and to upgrade Sky customers to HD who don't like paying monthly for Sky any more then its potential customer base is far larger than merely those Uk homes who cannot currently get a Freeview signal.
No, I said I didn't think many people would buy one in preference to an upgradable one.
I was very careful to say "except for HD"!
In fact it's clear that HD is going to be the main focus of Freesat's marketing. Again I'm not sure I'd go for the HD box which offered me the smaller selection of HD channels with no possibility to upgrade, provided of course that Sky set their basic HD package price at a competitive level.
Can I hand you an electron microscope and scalpel TCM so that you may better split that hair.
But that's what's right for you TCM isn't it because you always have been and always probably will be a paying Sky subscriber because (a) it shows sports you can't get on terrestrial and (b) you are in the happy position of being perfectly well able to afford the £540+ per annum you need to pay in subs to Sky for the privilege of seeing the Rugby in HD.
Others less fortunate than you with a lower disposable income than you and not hooked on test cricket, Premiership football or Rugby may find a £0 per month HD option for the FTA HD channels far more appealing.
And like it or not most people wrongly believe that if they have a Sky box in their house it means paying £500 a year or so to Sky in subs. This is precisely why the BBC believes it can capture a large number of people who want extra channel choice and also HD versions of those channels but who are allergic to taking a long term commitment to paying Sky £500 or more per annum to watch in HD.
It is the very lack of subscription enabling card slots in these boxes that is in fact an absolutely critical part of the marketing proposition to technically less sophisticated mortals than you or I. Also it is cheaper to make satellite boxes that do not support NDS encryption or indeed any form of external CAM.
I'm not disputing that many will want the £0 option. However is the options are £0/month with freesat, or £0/month with a box which can at later date be upgraded to get pay channels, the latter is the better option as it's more futureproof.
Where I can see Freesat, or technically "freesat", working is as a second box for a second TV.
Some ple will clearly buy it, but i can't see it being a runaway success like Freeview is.
But I doubt that is how it will be marketed, which is really the point. Do you think Sky can really afford to take the risk of alerting all their existing customers to how easy it would be to downgrade to the £0 per month option? That is why FreesatFromSky is hived off to its own website and not mentioned on the main Sky Digital website. It is also why Sky try to punish FreesatFromSky customers by making then sign another 12 month contract if they ever do want to subscribe, even though they have already paid £150 for the box and dish.
[quoteSome people will clearly buy it, but i can't see it being a runaway success like Freeview is.[/QUOTE]
I think the jury is out on that. It largely depends on whether Sky continue to charge a subscription if you want to record any channels with their Sky+ system. If you could have FTA HD with recording on a Sky HD box with no subscription then I'm sure that would be a quite popular product if it was actively marketed (which unlike BBC/ITV freesat it will not be).
It remains to be seen how much active marketing Freesat will get. I would guess "not a lot" as there is no obvious win for the BBC or ITV in promoting the satellite route over DTT.
Then why did they go through so much angst and controversy to get the BBC Trust to approve plans for it.
There is a big win for the BBC in disassociating transmission of its services on Astra from having anything to do with being controlled by Sky. Why else would have they bothered with the project in the first place.
I guess in order to have an outlet to justify their expenditure on HD, although I must have dozed off during the "angst and controversy".
Freesat will not reduce the BBC's dependency on Sky to nay significant extent. They will still need to pay for the EPG listing to reach the 8m households who get their TV that way.
They could have done this any time in the last 10 years; the fact they are only just sort of getting round to it shows how low a priority it is.