NTL Throws Down BSkyB Programming Challenge

05 July 2006

The head of newly-enlarged UK cable provider NTL is ready to do battle with satellite giant BSkyB in the content arena.

Ceo Stephen Burch, recruited from US cable titan Comcast to oversee NTL following its merger with nominal UK rival Telewest [WAMN: 04-Oct-05], will take the fight to Sky via aggressive expansion of on-demand films and a renewed commitment to television programming.

Burch believes that "VOD will be a strong retention tool and, when people understand it better, [a customer] acquisition tool". He also plans to expand Flextech, the TV content business which is teamed 50/50 with state-funded broadcaster, the BBC, in the UKTV venture.

Burch says the Telewest merger has resulted in a stronger negotiating hand with film studios on distribution deals.

  • Meantime, NTL, which is US-owned but operates only in the UK, has completed its £962 million ($1.67bn; €1.38bn) takeover of the Virgin Mobile telco from ubiquitous entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

    The acquisition adds a fourth string of cellphone connectivity to NTL's existing triple whammy of TV, internet and fixed-line telephony.

    It is anticipated the company will start marketing a single portfolio of services under the Virgin brand by early 2007.

    Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff