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Pay TV Marketing Trends in 2007

Across the industry, the marketing of Pay TV products has seen companies adopt an increasingly diverse range of messages in order to attract new subscribers. Its seems strange to think that less than a year ago, the Virgin Media brand had not yet been applied to the newly merged cable business formed by NTL and Telewest.

But no sooner had the Virgin Media brand emerged, all youthful, honest and optimistic, it was compromised by a tit-for-tat name-calling battle across the British press that helped neither Virgin or Sky and, in contrast to much of the marketing of 2006, did little to increase the market 'opportunity' of pay television.  

Virgin Media Launch 2007

Launch Newspaper Advertising for Virgin Media

BSkyB Direct Mail

Sky Direct Mail to Virgin's customers following the failed renegotiation for carriage of Sky's channels Sky One, Sky News etc. on Virgin Media

BT Vision Newspaper Advertising

Setanta Newspaper Advertising, July 2007

But 2007 was the year of the triple-play with BSkyB ramping up the marketing of its Free Broadband offer with a variety of campaigns build around the ability of Sky's customers to 'See, Speak & Surf'. Whilst many consumers still switch-off from a conversation about subscription television, they are still willing to enter into a discussion about broadband. 

Bulding on the NTL Telewest legacy, Virgin were always going to enter the market with a bundled offering. The initial launch strategy was based around a 'quad-play' of bundled mobile telephony services, but this strategy was abandoned in the middle of 2007 partly due to the possibility of a new owner dropping the Virgin brand, but also because consumers were not engaging in the mobile offer, particularly since many company employees already have a mobile phone as part of their job. Virgin did try and play a dual-play offer to combat the success of Freeviw,  providing 'Free TV' to customers that took its cable telephony service.

BT Vision also significantly ramped up its marketing, but with lukewarm results, targeting a 'cosy' segment of the market, which unfortunately for BT is increasingly well-informed thanks to the pervasiveness of the internet, and which is making highly informed value judgements about 'value-for-money' and other criteria where the BT offer doesn't fair so well in the long-term.

Sky, despite having clearly shown the value and importance of associating a Pay TV brand with content, and illustrating the broad content range on offer to prospective subscribers, the competitors of Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision almost consistently ignored this strategy throughout 2007, with BT Vision insisting on showcasing its rather ugly set-top-box in most campaigns and Virgin Media sticking to a bold and brash style that clearly challenged Sky's dominance, but did little to cause prospective customers to warm or engage with the Virgin brand.

Sky also faced another marketing challenge in 2007 with the arrival of Setanta Sports who acquired the rights to show 46 Premiership matches per season in a 3 year deal. Sky responded to the arrival of Setanta in both August and towards the end of the year with campaigns that were very clearly focussed on showcasing the legacy of Sky's involvement in Premiership football and the diverse range of premium sport available on Sky's sports channels in general. This contrasts greatly with Setanta's brash, 'value baked beans' marketing approach which whilst being down to earth, is does little to convey a shared passion for sport.

Outside the UK, there were some interesting battles in the autumn period with IPTV network Belgacom discounting its TV pricing to undermine the largest Belgain cable operator Telenet, and Telenet responding with a suitable one week campaign which clearly illustrated the limitations of ADSL technology.

In the US, Dish and DirecTV continue to market HD channel choice and value for money, whilst cable operators such as Comcast have had to resort to pushing the number of hours of HD content they have on their VOD system as a way of diverting attention from the fact they have less than 50% of the HD channels that satellite offer.  

Should you wish to understand how various operators are communicating with both prospective and existing customers, we would be most happy to speak with you.

PayMedia is also publishing a 150 page full colour report covering trands in Global Pay TV Marketing in 2007. The report will be available in early 2008 and includes a comprehensive DVD of TV campaigns priced at 1,399. (Early-Bird / Pre-order price 1,200) 

PayMedia also provides its Marketing Monitor service on a subscription basis, providing daily updates on new and innovative marketing and communications strategies in the digital TV and pay TV sectors.

To order your copy of the report, or to find out more about 'Marketing Monitor'  please contact


Heroes: Sky Sports Newspaper Advertising August 2007

Sky Sports Newspaper Advertising August 2007