Posts Tagged ‘BSkyB’


If you are really nerdy, not unlike the author of this article, you may never have recovered from the death of Blake. He was the eponymous hero of the TV series ‘Blake’s Seven’, who was killed off halfway through the series, only to apparently reappear in the last episode, but this time as villain, who killed all the other main characters. So what has that got to do with the price of bread? Well, it turns out that Microsoft – that’s Microsoft a company better known for a product you may have heard of called Windows – is re-making Blake’s seven for Xbox Live service. It’s a part of a – sorry to use an overused word – revolution in the world of content. It is one that will affect us just as much as a sharp change in the price of bread.

Microsoft is not alone. Netflix has had a go at another old BBC series, ‘The House of Cards’, and it has been praised to the hills too. To misquote the rather nauseating fictitious politician Francis Urquhart, played by Ian Richardson in the original series: “You might say it is better than the original, I cannot possible confirm that.”

Amazon is making a TV series called ‘Alpha House’. They are at it because these companies realise something crucial: content really is king. They need content to promote their distribution channel.

Not all are going for unique content. Vodafone is licensing BSkyB sports content to appear on its 4G network. BT, as you will surely know, is taking on BSKYB in its own back yard. Virgin is in turn licensing content from BT.

But are the companies with real value the ones that create content, and why does their content have to be sold on an exclusive basis? So HBO or the BBC are examples of content producers – although in the case of HBO it has its own premium network, and in the case of BBC asking whether it is a distributor of content or a producer of content is akin to asking which was first: the chicken or the egg. But content producers also include producers of sports, football clubs, and cricket clubs and, well you can continue the list.

And as mobile internet evolves from 3G to 4G to 5G, we will all have access to the means of distribution. Do we need the distributors, or can we go direct to the content producers?

© Investment & Business News 2013

Sport. Michael Owen is on the team. So is Robin van Persie. In fact, with Rio Ferdinand in defence and David James in goal, it is not a bad team. But this is no football side. It’s BT’s new sports commentary team. The very tall – at least he looks very tall when standing next to Formula One drivers – Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding are on-side too.

It is just part of BT’s broadside against, well against lots of companies, but BSkyB in particular.

And BT seems to be playing it both ways. So, you can sign-up to the full service, and use BT for your broadband, TV, and…well…the works. Or course, you can just use BT for your broadband and get its sports coverage thrown in for free. So that’s both sides covered. But there is a third side too. Don’t want BT as your main TV provider, don’t want its broadband, but do wants its sport coverage… well you can just sign up for that. So BT is going against and complementing BSkyB all at the same time.

Then there is its second goal – 4G – BT has joined the world of 4G, and is back in the game of providing a mobile service network for the first time since it sold 02. Its third goal – or attempt at a goal at least – is its ambitious aim to roll out its fibre optic network – it already has 1.5 million customers for this service.

And yet BT – along with BSkyB, ITV, Channel Four, Virgin Media, and even the BBC – faces a new type of challenge. There is premium content from the Internet as the likes of YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu enter the world of TV content. This is the approach that enables content providers to provide their own channel under the auspices, say, of YouTube.

You may be feeling a sense of déjà vu. A similar war was declared one and a half decades ago, as the ISPs – the likes of AOL – provided their proprietary content, and virtually tried to lock users in to their content only. Non-proprietary won the day, of course.

Now the war is being replayed, but this time the battle ground is over TV type content.

© Investment & Business News 2013