Freeview readies bid to nab lapsed Sky users

Freeview is to launch an “aggressive” multi-million pound acquisition drive to tempt “low-end” BSkyB and Virgin Media customers not watching the channels they are paying for to switch after admitting interest in the service has fallen post digital switchover.

Freeview’s acquisition drive is targeting customers on cheaper pay-TV subscriptions from providers such as Sky and Virgin.

The free to air service has scaled back the retention campaigns promoting added value services such as personal video recorder Freeview+ and Freeview HD in favour of value-based activity pointing out it provides over 95 per cent of the most watched programmes in the UK.

Citing BARB data Freeview says more than 19.3 million households in the UK have the subscription-free Freeview service on their main television set, while a total of 10.6 million have it on at least one TV in their homes. However, knowledge of the Freeview brand and what it offers remains low, the company says.

Guy North, Freeview’s marketing communications director, says the level of migration to Freeview is not as high as it was during the 2011/2012 digital switchover.

He adds: [Our strategy] means targeting those low-end paid TV subscribers because we know through research that we’ve done they are not necessarily getting good value for money in their current deals and therefore may be open to switching.”

The strategy has been developed using insight from a study of 3,000 customers signed up to TV, broadband and home phone bundle deals. The poll , conducted in partnership with the Post Office, revealed over a third (39 per cent) said they rarely watch any of the TV channels they pay for, while 34 per cent of people revealed they were dissatisfied with their current bundle.

North says the research findings offers Freeview the opportunity to be a genuine alternative to paid-for TV providers such as Sky and Virgin.

He adds: “The [campaign] strategy is quite a departure for us in terms of how approach our communications strategy. It’s more punchy and more aggressive than what we have done in the past. If we’re positioning ourselves as being the consumer champion it’s absolutely right that we make sure that all consumers have the information that they need to make the right decision.”

A television advert, breaking 22 February, again uses the helium balloon theme to symbolise the range of content and technology it offers consumers free from subscription. It will be supported by digital and radio promotions, all of which will point to a website where people can learn about what TV offering best suits their preferences.

Separately, the company’s managing director Ilse Howling raised the possibility that connected TV services could reach a mass audience on Freeview without the need for a YouView set-top box. She adds YouView is not a “mainstream” service yet.

TV services’ customer base in the UK (results to 31 December 2012)

  • Freeview – 19.3 million
  • Virgin Media (incl TiVo) – 3.8 million
  • TiVo (breakout fig) – 1.3 million
  • Freesat – 3 million
  • BT Vision – 771,000



Linear TV still the dominant viewing habit

Ronan Shields

Watching linear broadcasts on TV sets is still overwhelmingly the dominant way to watch programming despite the rise of digital platforms according to the latest Broadcasters’ Audiences Research Board (BARB).


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