Virgin TV ranks just behind leader Sky TV as the largest TV programming provider in the UK. Virgin’s cable based delivery service has successfully challenged Sky’s satellite based service in many markets, and even dominates in the Pay per View venue.
The company first took on its current persona in early 2007 when telemarketing firm National Transcommunications Limited merged its services with Virgil Mobile, creating the brand ‘Virgin Media’. Virgin Mobile and NTL had had dealings going back several years, but this was the main point of origin for what we know now as Virgin TV.
It began its programming with a selection of shows from SKY1 and SKY2, and newly acquired rights to present some American shows including Alias, The OC, and cult favorite Lost.
In March of the same year, the agreement for the Sky programming would be ending, and the two companies had not reached an agreement to extend. After a heated battle, which included inflammatory open letters in the newspapers and contentious messages replacing the lost Sky programming on Virgin’s screens, the courts stepped in and helped to broker a deal over the next 16 months that finally allowed Virgin to continue running some of the satellite based programming from Sky, and Sky would carry several programs owned and produced by Virgin.
Current State of the Virgin Business:
While still limited by being a cable based delivery system, Virgin is ranked number two with more than 3.5Million total subscribers in the UK, compared to number one Sky with 8.2 million. It is estimated that nearly 60% of all UK residents are able to access Virgin services and the company hopes to increase that number through various buyouts of smaller networks and fiber optic systems.
Virgin does excel in Pay per View users, scoring a total of more than 300 million on demand clients each year, and the number is slowly climbing.
Virgin expands their offerings with technology made available to their customers that helps them to enjoy Virgin programming in more ways, and by keeping their channel count and programming quality as high as possible. Currently Virgin has over 300 radio and TV channels and features some of the newest shows such as The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.
Virgin is also one of the largest providers of high speed broadband in the UK, with max speed packages and no data limit plans available.
Where Virgin Succeeds:
Virgin has excellent programming with prices that compete with other vendors, including Sky. The fact that their package includes many of the most popular Sky offerings sweetens the deal. What further sweetens it is a variety of new customer discounts designed to lure users away from satellite and free TV and into the Virgin family.
The fact that broadband can be included at a discounted price is another welcome option. Satellite Internet Service is available from Sky, but land line based services are still faster and more reliable.
The largest market for Virgin is in largely Urban areas, where cable networks are already established. This is also an area where Satellite installations can be problematic. Towers and neighboring buildings often block good line of site access for placement of satellite dishes, and people who live on the wrong side of a multi-unit building have problems getting their dishes pointed in the right direction.
Virgin is also tempting customers with low price TV packs that bundle some of the most popular sports, news and entertainment options together with features like i\on demand and Virgin Catchup, a streaming service that saves shows for future viewing from the last 7 days. These shows can be accessed through the user interface and do not require DVR access.