UK service provider TalkTalk has timed its TV strategy perfectly with today’s launch of a YouView-based offer, according to Giles Cottle, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News).
Despite operating a pay-TV platform since it acquired Tiscali in 2007, TalkTalk’s existing managed IPTV service has had low subscriber take-up and stopped accepting new orders early last year.
So today’s announcement that it will offer a free YouView box worth GB£ 299 (US$ 470) as well as access to its own video-on-demand store and the LOVEFiLM Instant service to Plus customers who sign up for a new 24-month contract is big news for the ISP.
“All of this puts TalkTalk back into the UK Pay-TV league, but, to borrow more football parlance, it is still nowhere near challenging for the Champions League,” says Mr. Cottle. “BT and Virgin also have Sky wholesale deals, and no third party, including TalkTalk, has access to the much coveted Sky Atlantic, fast becoming the jewel in Sky’s Pay-TV crown.”
The Informa analyst goes on to say that TalkTalk’s CEO Dido Harding knows that she faces an unwinnable battle in offering content on its own, so is working with other providers to do so.
“It is a classic ‘telco TV lite’ strategy, designed to protect its broadband customer base rather than grow a TV business in its own right, and TalkTalk has executed it very well. Many of its telco peers will be green with envy today.
“While they sunk millions of euros into IPTV rollouts from which they will never turn a profit, TalkTalk has a next-generation TV platform and offering that would be cheap at twice the price – especially as, lest we forget, it had to foot only a fraction of the bill for YouView.”
Mr. Cottle adds that there is one final irony amongst all of this: while today’s announcement apparently pitches TalkTalk against pay-TV giant BSkyB, Sky is actually a huge beneficiary of TalkTalk’s strategy.
“There will be nothing stopping TalkTalk customers from subscribing to or paying for Sky content via their shiny new subsidised-by-TalkTalk YouView boxes,” concludes Mr. Cottle. “And the kind of budget-conscious consumers that TalkTalk’s offers are typically aimed at are the exact kind of customer that Sky is targeting with Now.
“TalkTalk has made out like bandits from YouView. But once again, we are brought back to the undeniable conclusion that Sky, despite all its posturing and spoiling tactics about YouView, stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of it.”