Sky have more than doubled their annual profits thanks to a load more people subscribing to them. This is according to their own figures. They were also keen to point out that profit after tax jumped to £1.957 billion in the year to the end of June compared with £865 million for 2013/14.
This was the first results they’ve put out since Rupert Murdoch’s empire brought together BSkyB with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, to create a European pay-TV behemoth.
“The past 12 months have been an outstanding period of growth for Sky,” chief executive Jeremy Darroch said in the results statement. ”The UK and Ireland, where our strategy is most progressed, put in a particularly strong performance. We passed the 12 million customer milestone with the highest growth in 11 years.”
Seems like throwing all that money at football coverage is still doing them rather well.
While it performed very well in the UK and Ireland, it is elsewhere that Sky are most pleased about. ”Germany delivered its highest-ever customer growth, while Italy maintained its subscriber base in a tough market.” added Darroch.
Those rascals over at Sky are preparing to drop a new set-top box within weeks, like it’s their latest mixtape. So what’s new about it? Well, according to blabbermouths, it will offer you the kind of experience you’ve had with Netflix (or Apple, if you prefer).
What does that mean exactly? Well, this thing is called SkyQ, and will let customers watch and record at least four things simultaneously, on multiple devices, and will wirelessly send content to your smartphones and tablets. And of course, it’ll be able to deal with ultra-high definition (UHD or 4K) broadcasts, because that’s what everyone in TV is talking about these days.
Apparently, it is all ‘really very slick’ according to one insider who has seen it working in action. They said that the interface is similar to Netflix, with a virtual carousel being used rather than the crappy old interface that Sky have been using on their current Sky+ HD box.
Like Netflix, it will try and pick up on what your tastes are, so it can make suggestions and all that.
Sky are also going to be launching a new Now TV box next month and, while the exact details about it are being kept under wraps, we’ve heard that it will be “faster and smoother”. Take from that what you will.
To celebrate the second birthday of Chromecast, there’s free rental on a bunch of films, so how do you get at them? Well, open up Chrome on your desktop and through the Chromecast extension (install it if you haven’t), visit this website and ‘redeem all offers’.
You’ll then need to click the Google Play offer in the top corner of the page, and boom! You’ll have a rental voucher for free. It can be applied when you checkout any film on the Play Store.
Now, it doesn’t work in all countries, but seeing as it is such a simple process, you may as well see if it works for you. It might tell you that you’ve “redeemed the maximum number of free rentals”, so it seems there’s a limit on the offer too. It has worked for some UK-dwellers.
HD movies are available too, so knock yourself out with some free films.
What does that mean? Maybe it’ll offer highlights to people while the game is still running? Or maybe you’ll be able to get updates with all the goals, almost as they happen? One thing you can bet on, is that it will cost you money as Sky don’t do owt for free.
Sky says that this 3-year deal kicks off in time for the 2016/17 season, and will cover their mobile and online users.
It looks like News UK has chipped in with some of the money to pay for this, which means you could be getting video content through The Sun and The Times.
Sky Sports MD Barney Francis said “This will allow us to offer our customers even more content across mobile and online. The way people watch sport is changing rapidly and this agreement ensures Sky Sports will continue to offer the best coverage across TV, mobile, online and social media.”
Paywalltastic, but could be right up the street of some people, that’s for sure.
If you wanted to leave Virgin and didn’t want to wait until the end of your contract, this is good news, as you can now ditch them without a charge. You’ll have until 31st August to hand your notice in.
For new customers, who aren’t phased by all that, there’s a bunch of codes floating around where you can get up to £50 off on online orders. You can see those here.
That said, Virgin have form with this, and have been warned about mid-term price increases by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), concerning some broadband and phone deals. Basically, the ASA found that Virgin could raise the price above what they had already promoted their services for, which is a breach of the regulator’s rules.
Concerning the latter, the ASA said that even though the contracts that have been complained about were variable, consumers were still mislead over the notion that they were being offered fixed-prices during the minimum term of the contract.
The ASA ruling said: “We considered that the monthly price of a contract was likely to be material to consumers when deciding on a telecommunications package, and that they might not choose a particular package if they knew that the monthly cost could increase beyond the amounts stated in the ad, during the minimum term. Therefore, we considered that the price claim should have been immediately qualified to explain to consumers that it was not fixed throughout the minimum term, and that the contract was a variable one in which the price could rise.”
“Because subsequent price rises meant the advertised price claims for the packages did not represent the prices that consumers would pay throughout the minimum term of the contract, across both the promotional and standard periods, and because it was not made clear that the contract was a variable one in which prices could increase, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
Virgin’s wrists might get slapped over these new TV prices too, if they’re not careful.
Netflix is about to get more expensive. According to the CEO, that’s the price for more original content. Considering the successes of Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards, Daredevil, BoJack Horseman and others, you could argue that they know what they’re doing.
The gaffer of the company, Reed Hastings told investors that they’ll be shunting people toward more expensive plans, and not only that, they’re going to try and make it more difficult for people to share their passwords.
So, while you can have four profiles on one account, that might soon become a thing of the past, as they want more people paying for the service.
Hastings said: “We want to take it very slow. Over the next decade I think we’ll be able to add more content and have more value and then price that appropriately.”
Of course, Netflix put prices up this year, by 50p, for new subscribers in the UK, but it looks like everyone is going to be paying more. Will it be an increase that puts people off the TV and movie service, or is everyone in too deep?
You may have thought that you were completely at your ease, to rip CDs and the like, but think again! That’s because a spectacularly pointless law has been brought back! That’s right, a challenge from those forward thinking people of the music industry, has seen the UK’s High Court overturning regulation that allows you to rip your own CDs (and DVDs) for personal use.
Even though most people take stuff straight from other places and load them straight onto their phones and other devices and haven’t really needed CDs for ages now.
Apparently, the government was wrong when they didn’t implement compensation for copyright holders when you put your albums on your hard-drive.
99.9% of people will be thinking; ‘Aye, good luck catching me in the act, you stupid berks’.
The industry, which is desperately out of touch in many cases, think this is a big win for themselves and artists. They have been saying that ‘format shifting’ has been robbing the upright citizens of the music business out of £58 million, every year. The idiots.
Anyway, you carry on living your life exactly as you please and ignore this thoroughly pointless ruling.
On the new channel, the rollout will be pretty slow, with BT Sport Ultra HD (a stupid name for a channel) showing two extra Premier League matches, the FA Cup, Aviva Premiership Rugby and the Silverstone MotoGP. It’ll kick off on August 2nd, with the FA Community Shield match between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Richard Halton, CEO of YouView chirruped: “We are immensely proud of the partnership with BT to deliver the first Ultra HD set top box in the UK.”
What is this Ultra HD nonsense? Basically, the picture quality is better than the usual HD TV. In fact, it’ll give you a picture that is four-times better. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to watch a game of football where you can see the goalkeeper’s blackheads or the traces of cocaine hanging from a club owner’s nostril hair. It will be scintillating stuff, clearly.
The Entertainment Ultra HD package will be going on sale on July 24th, and will be available to those on BT Infinity 2 (or better) where the approximate speed is 44 Mbps or faster.
You’ll obviously need a new set-top box which is able to handle 4K broadcasts, but with this bundle, you’ll also get a voucher for up to £500 off an LG 4K UHD TV, which is something. They will have invariably tied-up up the money-off-a-TV deal with someone, but still, money off is money off.
It’ll cost you £15 per month and you’ll get all the BT sport channels thrown-in - BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT ESPN and BT Sport Europe – as well as 47 premium channels including 13 channels in HD and 9 kids channels. So there.
TalkTalk are offering people a new deal with their TalkTalk Plus TV service, where they can get Netflix for no extra charge, for a limited time of 6 months. You’d assume there’s an auto-renewal going on here, so if you’re thinking of signing up, make sure you read the t&cs.
This is good news for anyone who was thinking of switching to TalkTalk Plus TV, as you’ll now be able to get stuck into Orange Is The New Black or House of Cards, or whatever. You already know that there’s a load of films you can watch on there, too.
The offer is available until July 23rd, so hop to it if this sounds like your thing. This deal gives you access to Netflix Standard, which is usually £7.49 a month.
On top of that, TalkTalk have cut the cost of its Plus TV, broadband, calls and mobile SIM bundle to £10 a month plus line rental, which the company think is their best ever offer. Through this service, you also get six Sky entertainment channels, including Sky One, Sky Living and Sky Arts, totally unlimited broadband, a YouView+ box, anytime calls to UK landlines and a free mobile SIM.
So there. Worth a look.
Auntie Beeb is going to cut 1,000 jobs, thanks to a £150m shortfall in licence fee income, according to director general Tony Hall. He told BBC staff that the corporation were adjusting to a reduction in the number of people watching live television, which in basic terms, means that there are fewer people paying for the licence fee.
Hall said to staff: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face. We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”
This is all part of a plan that sees the BBC havin to make £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017, which is a terrifying amount of money. The corporation, as well as job losses, are looking at reducing the amount of cash spent on property and sports rights.
The BBC said in a statement: “Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found.”
“The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150 million less than it was expected to be in 2011. This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling.”
“It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”
Now, hands-up if you’re thinking that the British Broadcasting Corporation could save millions and millions from paying a number of their big stars a bit less money?
Well, the movie streaming service has launched PAYG top-ups, which is great if you don’t know how to work a torrent or, indeed, a fine last-minute gift for someone who you can’t be bothering thinking about for too long.
It appears that it’ll work in the same way you top-up a PAYG mobile, where you can buy £15, £25 or £50 in credit which will be added to your Netflix account. Then, you can spend it on a Netflix package or whatever.
So if you’re annoyed that you can’t watch Netflix exclusives like Orange Is The New Black, or House of Cards, then this is your way in (if you want to do everything above board). This will be good for parents who don’t want to give their kids their credit card to pay for Netflix too.
There you have it. Pay as you go movies and TV shows.
When Tidal launched, the assembled musicians stood around Jay Z, nodding gravely about how they were collectively going to save the music industry. In fact, the way they were going on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were going to save the world.
Well, everyone didn’t take too quickly to the service, preferring to stay with Spotify or indeed, waiting for Apple to get their thing going. It was seen as an immediate flop.
And now, a mere 3 months into the job, the chief executive of the service has quit. Peter Tonstad took on the gig after Tidal sacked previous honcho Andy Chen. At the time Tidal said Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo”.
At the moment, Tidal has around 800,000 subscribers. If you compare that to Spotify’s 20 million, you can see what a difficult job they’ve got on their hands. When Apple get going, the competition will be much, much tougher.
In a statement Tidal said: “We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future. Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform, and current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place.”
Should they just hang up their headphones already?
There’s been a bit of fuss and brow-furrowing about Apple’s new music streaming service, with Anton Newcombe calling the company ‘satanic’ during a rant about their strong-arm tactics with musicians, and as previously reported, were accused of bullying Taylor Swift.
A big grievance from musicians is that they were being asked to offer their music for free for Apple’s 3-month trial for their streaming service, and Taylor Swift – who of course took her music off Spotify (or her people did) – spoke out against it. She said that ”it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing”.
Swift said that it would hurt young artists trying to break into the music industry, and referred to the decision as “shocking” and “disappointing”.
“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,” she wrote in a blog post entitled “To Apple, Love Taylor” on Tumblr.
She echoed what a lot of independent labels had said and now, Apple have said that they’re listening, and will pay royalties during the free trial period.
Apple executive Eddy Cue said that these criticisms from Taylor Swift highlighted what had already been said, and he tweeted: ”Apple will always make sure that artists are paid. AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”
In response, Swift tweeted: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.” She then pointed out that she wasn’t necessarily making a stand for herself, but rather, new bands who aren’t nearly as wealthy as her, who stood to go without getting paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays.
Sky are releasing a new version of their Now TV box, offering everyone the chance to get a monthly pass to Sky Sports channels for the first time. However, it will not be offering Full HD playback of Sky content.
The new hardware is capable of Full HD, but the Now TV streams are limited to 720p, and it looks like Sky have no plans to enhance the quality of the streams at the time being. So, if you’re a nerd about these things and were looking at getting one of these boxes, you might want to think again.
The new Now TV box has an added ethernet port, which means you don’t have to rely on a wireless connection, should yours be a bit ropey. Sky reckon the new device has a processor that’s five time as fast as the one in its predecessor, which is nice.
And what’s this about monthly sports TV? Well, Sky are introducing a new monthly Sports Pass to accompany the the daily (£6.99) and weekly (£10.99) passes that are currently on offer. A Sky Sports Month Pass will set you back £31.99 and you’ll be able to get access to all of the broadcaster’s sports channels, including Sky Sports F1.
The main difference with this, and the normal subscription, is that the Sky Now passes don’t require you to sign-up for a long-term commitment.