Virgin Media gears up for possible Freeview box retail release

Virgin Media is considering a retail launch of its branded Freeview set-top box. The box is already offered free to non-cable customers purchasing the £19.99 8mb broadband and Talk Anytime phone bundle.

Virgin customers on other packages can buy the box either in Virgin Megastores or over the web. But Ashley Stockwell, Virgin Media managing director of brand, says the cable operator is mooting making the box available to anyone. The box features a Virgin Media-branded electronic programme guide (EPG).

Stockwell says: “We are looking at all retail operators out there.” Outlets could include mobile phone retailers and electrical stores such as Dixons and Comet.

The launch, which was exclusively revealed in Marketing Week (March 8), was part of Virgin Media’s strategy to reposition itself as an entertainment brand rather than just a cable operator. It hopes the digital TV services, which use the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform, will help it extend its reach beyond cable’s footprint, which covers less than half the UK population.

Virgin Media, which relaunched from the NTL and Telewest brands in February this year, is also on track to launch a television over broadband (IPTV) service later this year or early next. The cable operator is also close to launching entertainment channel Virgin 1.

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