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Virgin Reaches Agreement to Sell Channels to Sky

Gordon Kelly


Virgin Reaches Agreement to Sell Channels to Sky

Could this turn out to be a deal that benefits everyone involved?

After months of talks and speculation today Virgin has come to an agreement to sell Virgin Media Television (VMtv) to Sky. The 160m cash deal (with £105m paid on completion) involves the channels LIVING, LIVINGit, Challenge, Challenge Jackpot, Bravo, Bravo 2 and Virgin1. Sky will not license the Virgin brand and will announce the new channel brand for Virgin1 in due course (Sky 4?).

In addition to the cash Virgin will secure wholesale distribution to Sky’s basic channel line-up, including Sky1 and Sky Arts plus - for an incremental wholesale fee - the option of carrying any of Sky’s basic HD channels, Sky Sports HD 1, Sky Sports HD 2 and all Sky Movies HD channels. A range of content from Sky’s basic and premium channels will also be available through its on-demand TV service.

The overall result of this deal is Virgin has now transitioned entirely into a distributor of content rather than also being a creator of it and substantially expanded its broadcast agreements while Sky has expanded its channel portfolio. The £160m Virgin has recouped will go towards enlarging its on-demand and online VOD services. A necessary move with Sky also finally unveiling its Sky Anytime Plus on-demand service this week.

No timeline has been put on the completion of the deal, but speaking to Virgin Media representatives I was told "think months rather than quarters". A good deal all round for both companies and both sets of customers? Looks like...

In related news Microsoft has announced the integration of MSN Video into Windows Media Center. In effect this simply means you won't need to go to website, though that will still remain. It's an inevitable merger and one which adds some value since MSN Video currently has over 1,000 hours of TV shows - many in HD.

Link: Press Release


June 4, 2010, 6:06 pm

So does this mean mean Sky will pull Virgin 1 from freeview? That would totally suck :(


June 4, 2010, 6:07 pm

So who got the better deal? I dont see the login in Sky doing this at all. I already have at least the living and bravo channels and by doing this surely they put Virgin in a better position as it has nearly all the same channels(?) sky's HD line-up and also what is possibly a better VoD service (havent used it and sky's version isnt out yet) not to mention what almost made me get Virgin being able to record 2 channels and watch a third.


June 4, 2010, 6:16 pm

@Drazisaurus - that's a fair point. We'll have to wait on the implications for other broadcasters, but when it comes to distribution agreements they are usually long term and cover these sorts of things. Furthermore, if Sky did start pulling channels from rivals it would likely face an anti-competitive lawsuit.


June 4, 2010, 6:51 pm

"Could this turn out to be a deal that benefits everyone involved?" Apart from consumers of course. How is Sky now pretty much owning all the non freeview TV channels remotely good for competition? Sky just need to get the government to stuff up the BBC and then they can laugh all the way to the bank.


June 4, 2010, 9:50 pm

I doubt Sky will pull Virgin1 from Freeview. Sky's business model depends on growing subscriber numbers, effectively I beleive the Freeview channels are advertising, trying to convince people to change to Sky. Sky attract subscribers with premium content like brand new US shows, sports and movies, not the old crap that gets shown on Virgin1, so it wouldnt add anything to the PayTV lineup, but would increase Sky's presence in the FreeTV arena.


June 5, 2010, 12:55 am

@Drazisaurus - I think I read somewhere that Sky will rebrand Virgin 1 but they'll announce the name change nearer the time. So it might become Sky 4?


June 5, 2010, 2:25 am

And project canvas was pulled!!!

You know its actually harder to say which papers / news channels Murdoch doesn't own.


June 5, 2010, 2:49 am

Further to my previous posting ( http://www.trustedreviews.c... ).

More pertinently the deal provides Sky with rights to Freeview channel slots 'real estate' which is probably more valuable?!


June 5, 2010, 12:58 pm

@kdot, You can record 2 channels with SKY (twin tuners) and watch a third - a recorded one. Does Virgins HD box offer 3 tunners?


June 5, 2010, 1:52 pm

So long as it means I'll be able to get Sky1 HD on virgin that's fine by me - I'm starting to miss Fringe and Stargate in HD moist chewy goodness having traded in Sky for Virgin to get the 50Meg internet


June 5, 2010, 7:42 pm

virgin1 +1 has already been removed from freeview


June 5, 2010, 9:53 pm

@HDRE both have two tuners (which is why with Sky the third channel is only recorded content). Virgin allows you to see two, but not a recorded third (unless there has been a recent firmware update I'm not aware of)


June 6, 2010, 12:30 am

From the virginmedia site .....


Record two channels while you watch a third

With V+ you can record two channels at the same time, while you watch a third. You can't do that with Sky+! You can store up to a massive 80 hours of programmes to watch whenever you want.


June 6, 2010, 2:29 am

The Virgin box has 3 tuners. You can record 2 programs and watch a 3rd. But you cant record 3 programs.


June 6, 2010, 5:25 am

Excellent, thanks for the updates chaps


June 6, 2010, 2:57 pm

@Castalan yeah Fringe is quite good and would be nice in HD but come on Stargate Universe I persume you talking about - now that show should hopefully get swallowed by a black hole and disappear for ever - what a complete and utter waste of potential!

Virgin Selling off there tv channels make them look a tad silly now for all their talk aa couple of years back -

It will be interesting to see though if Sky though can improve say Virgin1 what only had a couple of decent recent shows (Trauma and Chuck)


June 6, 2010, 6:09 pm

I WANT VIRGIN 1 DROPPED FROM FREEVIEW IT SUCKS!!! If you are going to show porn - show porn not the weirdo S&M frenchie Rapido garbage, it's all they show nightime.

Everything Branson does sucks - the trains, the planes, condoms, cola and money they all suck like the beard on his chinny chin chin.


June 6, 2010, 7:37 pm

@hank - nah, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Broadband are both very good.


June 6, 2010, 8:13 pm


Fringe and SG: Universe have been my favourite programmes this year! Although without Robbie Carlyle, SGU would be poor. As for Fringe - what a cliffhanger at the end of season 2, eh?! There must be some fans in the TR office. As for British chows, Luther and Ashes to Ashes have both been magnificent.

On topic: I've just found out about 'Fetch TV', an on demand service offering all the major channels including Sky for a fee - Tesco are now selling a Freeview PVR with the service for £200. Worth checking out.


June 6, 2010, 9:00 pm

@hank: oh steve jobs you old fool, trying to censor the world,

ps. actually they show tv casino rubbish all night


February 11, 2011, 12:23 am

So Sky did pull Virgin 1 from Freeview in the end... albeit by firstly renaming it, then closing it down altogether.

Now the content will be drip fed onto other Sky channels where Sky can use the to justify higher prices!


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