It seems that you and Virgin Media have decided that you are both unable to act like you are professionally run companies, and have resorted instead to the business equivalent of a pissing contest over your current carriage agreement renewal disagreements.
Sadly, you decided to cast the first stone a couple of weeks ago when you started running ‘scare tactic’ ads on your channels warning Virgin Media (NTL/Telewest) customers that Virgin wanted to take their Sky One access away. Virgin rightly complained about your use of this tactic – and anyone who works in a business environment and who is used to negotiating contracts would know what an underhand move it was.
Thankfully for you, as expected, eventually Virgin threw their toys out of the pram too. Richard Branson, bless him: you really don’t have to push very hard to get him playing his eternal victim card, and last Friday they launched a section on their site dedicated to the dispute, and of course laying the blame at the feet of your good selves.
What was your response? It seems it was to put ads in EVERY ad break on your Sky Branded channels again saying how Virgin wants to take away your channels and you don’t want that to happen; and that we should phone Virgin and tell them, or (of course) just switch to Sky instead.
Newsflash: These incessant sanctimonious ads are making me want to turn off, and in fact I already am. How much do advertisers pay for a slot in-between your programmes on average? Are they going to be happy that people like me are either changing channels straight away or hitting the mute button for the whole ad break. Are they REALLY going to be happy?? Are these same advertisers going to be happy that half their potential audience is about to disappear if you don’t agree this carriage deal? My guess would be not. You paid a LOT of money for Lost. How many of those million or so viewers (less than half what it was getting on Channel Four, let’s not forget) are on cable? A third? Half? Can you even break even on the cost per episode?
You are playing a dangerous game based on Lost, 24, and the Simpsons. A dangerous game when the demographic for these programmes is the same demographic that knows all about bittorrent, and about sites like the Daily Motion where they could go an watch these programmes for free. NOt even that, just be old fashioned and get a friend with Sky to tape it each week – not really that much of a hardship.
Don’t get me wrong I am no blind Virgin defender. I happen to think Sky’s purchase of 17.9% of ITV was quite frankly, genius. Also, I have cable because, like many others in rented accommodation, our landlord doesn’t want a dish on the side of his house – we do not have a choice: we have to have cable. Given one, originally, I would have signed up with Sky.
But, that was then …. My position now would be to tell Virgin to just tell you to stick Sky One and Sky News – I can live without them, and your annoying ads.