Sky Boxes Clever in UK Pay-TV Battle

20 October 2004

Supermarket shoppers in the UK are set to drop digital satellite TV into their shopping trolleys alongside teabags and and laundry liquid, following a marketing deal between BSkyB and major retailers.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled pay-TV provider has come up with a Sky in a Box scheme in the hope of reinvigorating flagging subscriber numbers and challenging the popularity and simplicity of the BBC-backed Freeview 'plug and play' settop box.

Sky's offering will be on sale via supermarket giant Tesco, Kingfisher-owned retail chain Woolworths and high street catalogue store Argos. It costs just under £40 ($70, €56) - two thirds the price of an average Freeview box - and Sky believes the low price and no-frills accessibility will attract impulse buyers and the Christmas gift market.

The pack includes a Sky remote control and a number to call for installation of a satellite dish and settop box, plus limited free programming.

National press advertising, instore displays and inclusion in Christmas gift catalogues will support the launch.

Says BSkyB manging director Jon Florsheim: "The Sky starter pack makes our product available in a convenient form through mass-merchandise retailers for the first time."

BSkyB ceo James Murdoch has significantly boosted the company's marketing budget by £25 million annually and is tempting new customers with cheaper packages.

Sky is currently the biggest player in the UK pay-TV market with 7.4 million subscribers.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff