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Monday, November 27, 2006

Top-Up TV Anytime

An eagle eyed reader pointed out to me the correlation of the new Sky by Broadband name, Sky Anytime and the new PVR service to be launched by Top Up TV called Top Up TV Anytime. Apparently the name of the Top Up TV service has been in the public domain for many a month and therefore if the Top Up TV marketers were even half competent, they would have registered the Anytime trademark for broadcasting use and might be earning a few pounds from litigating against Sky. Personally, I do not subscribe to the view that Sky are merely using Anytime as a method of torturing their ex-executives now running Top Up TV.

They might need every drop of revenue quite soon because I feel that Top Up TV Anytime Service doesn’t have a chance in a million of succeeding. The premise behind the service seems to be that punters buy a PVR for £180, pay a connection fee of £20 and a monthly subscription fee of £10. This is for the nightly download of a maximum 13 hours of content from a distinctly average 11 channels. There is an option of paying an extra £5/month to get a nightly movie from Universal. The PVR has a capacity of around 100 hours of programming and can record “normal” TV content. More detail on the service is available at the excellent Digital Spy site.

I believe initially Top Up TV were actually quite farsighted in renting capacity four streams on the DTT multiplexes when they were going cheap. The problem they have is that the licenses expire in 2010 and are now a lot more valuable. ITV has bought the multiplex that Top Up TV uses and this means effectively that the maximum amount of time Top Up TV have left is 4 years. Again, the conspirators will theorise that BSkyB have just acquired another 17.9% of another instrument of torture. Five became a minority investor in Top Up TV paying £20m for a 20% stake in December 2005. Personally, I don’t see this as a validation of the Top Up TV business model, just the fact that Five had made a massive cock-up with DTT and in effect didn’t have any spectrum for when Digital Switchover starts in 2008.

The other interesting snippet is that Setanta Sports plans on launching its Premiership Football channel on one of the streams in Aug 2007 as well as on Sky and NTL. BSkyB will be absolutely terrified on this service taking off and ruining their franchise. I expect more on this closer to the time with Sky making Setanta’s life as hard as possible. They also broadcast an adult channel called Television X which they charge £10/month or £6/night.

Just to make things worse for Top Up TV is the forthcoming launch of BT Vision, I’m not sure of what this will contain, but I can almost guarantee it will put the Top Up TV offering to shame. There is speculation in the press today of the BT IPTV service on December 4th and I will my powder dry until the official launch.