Sky Turns 20

What will the TV landscape will look like in another 20 years?

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

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