September 07, 2011

Freesat update

According to MediaGuardian, subscription-free service Freesat has passed the 2 million customer mark and revealed that almost half of its users have defected from BSkyB. The three-year-old joint venture between the BBC and ITV, which aims to provide a free-to-air alternative to Sky's pay-TV digital satellite service, claims that 47% of Freesat customers are former Sky subscribers. 88k new homes took up Freesat during the second quarter of this year, compared with about 40k new Sky subscribers. (Virgin Media actually reported a loss of 36k customers that quarter.)
Freesat has kinda floundered as a service, but that doesn't appear to have stopped it picking up dish-endowed customers who are maybe cutting back on a few costs in these austere times. For those interested, Freesat still only offers the HD versions of BBC1, BBC HD, ITV1 and C4, plus something called NHK World. Around 150 TV and radio channels in all, including a few that aren't on Virgin, notably the CBS quartet. What's odd though is that the service doesn't carry some that are on Freeview - 5*, Dave, 5 USA are the ones I noticed missing.There were questions about the quality of standard definition channels on the platform a while back, with many saying it looked even worse than Freeview. I don't know if this has been addressed, but it still looks very much a third-rate service to me. I guess for former Sky customers though who don't have an aerial Freesat is an easier install option than even VM's lowest priced offers. 2m customers makes it a significant player though - bigger than BT Vision and more than half of VM's TV customer base.

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