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Sky Turns 20

Gordon Kelly


Sky Turns 20

It seems to be a day for milestones and anniversaries so in keeping with RIM's 50 millionth BlackBerry sale it only seems apt to mention Sky is no longer a teenager...

The Murdockian broadcast monolith is 20 years old today, an age since it caused something of a stir on 5 February 1989 by offering customers four whole channels. That was double the number of terrestrial channels available at the time.

In fact, Sky actually suffered a rather shaky start with the service initially lambasted ("Why would we ever need that many channels" was a favourite at the time) and faced competition from BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting) with whom it eventually merged in November 1990.

By contrast today it has more than nine million subscribers in the UK and Ireland plus a further 3.8m indirectly through Virgin and Irish cable company UPC. A whopping 240 TV channels are also on offer (of hugely varying quality it must be said) and 90 digital radio channels on an all digital service with the option of time shifting technology and High Definition feeds.

Often criticised for being something of a monopoly (at least until Virgin - mostly - got its act together) and fiendishly capitalist (pay per view on top of already paying-to-view, short term individual deals to lure subscribers, etc) it remains the best TV delivery service in the UK - and by some distance. 20 years from now however, who knows?


Sky 20 Years On


February 5, 2009, 9:21 pm

I have had Sky on and off for the past 15 years and to be honest I really don't like them! But, there is little alternative, and certainly for HD there isn't (Ok, there is Freesat. I can't get Virgin) Pay-for-view was one of the main reasons I first cancelled with them (having to pay for the privilege to pay more still winds me up!). I only returned last year for HD.

I could rant all day about the things that annoy me and I question every month if it is really value for money. When my 12 months is up I will strongly think about cancelling.


February 6, 2009, 1:22 am

I too wish there was a viable alternative as Virgin doesn't operate in my area either. Sky+ saved my subscription as I was wondering 'just what am I paying for anyway?' as I work nights. The PVR just revolutionizes the whole TV viewing experience. But in 20 years? Internet. Fast broadband services and storage devices as combined with ever-cheaper computing power will mean I can download what I want when I want on a there-and-then basis.

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