British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) have announced that they have signed a deal to buy access to several of Virgin Media’s Channels. This move will ultimately be beneficial to both Sky TV and Virgin Media subscribers.
The deal, which will cost a total of £160 million, isn’t a simple outright purchase nor is it a merger. Rather, British Sky Broadcasting will take control of Virgin Media Television Limited (VMtv), which is a division of Virgin Media that provides channels like Virgin1, Challenge, Challenge Jackpot, LIVING, LIVINGit, Bravo, and Bravo 2. Sky TV customers will now get to enjoy access to some of the most popular channels in the world.
The biggest windfall may actually come to Virgin Media subscribers. All 3.7 million of Virgin’s customers can expect to begin receiving new high-definition content like the Sky Sports HD and Sky Movies HD channels. They’ll also get access to the programming that is available through the Sky Player, and they will have access to the “red button” service which will allow them to watch sports programs on demand. The CEO of Virgin Media, Neil Berkett, said that this new deal is a way for Virgin Media to be able to offer its customers the very best content with the best method of delivery.
The move was surprising to many industry watchers, since Virgin Media TV has already been showing rapid growth in its television base in the last few years. Most likely this is a move by Sky TV and Virgin Media TV to more effectively compete with BT who has managed to hold onto the majority of phone and broadband market share by offering tempting deals on packages comprising unlimited broadband service, cheap phone bills and free TV via BT Vision.
Overall, this looks like good news for both Sky TV and Virgin Media TV customers — both groups will gain access to new television channels and more viewing options.