It would appear that with the new year has come a new agreement between bitter rivals Virgin Media and Sky. The evidence? Virgin Media has today announced that both Sky News HD and Sky Sports News HD are now available on their service at no additional charge to customers who have opted to take up their Media XL package.
The addition of these channels further reduces the number of exclusive channels that Sky customers can enjoy and places Sky with an ever shrinking number of ways to entice customers through the door. Sky were recently forced to place their sports channels on BT's YouView service by the media regulator Ofcom and have struck out at comments made by former Ofcom chief who called Sky's attempts to hold the ruling up in court 'unhelpful'. It's not all bad news, however, because Sky will no longer have to field questions regarding the inaccessibility of these channels via their Sky contact methods.
Presumably, this has come as part of some kind of deal between the two companies but it's as yet unknown how much (if any) money changed hands between the two companies. Of course, it could be part of a larger deal between the two which would see Sky also sell rights to its wildly popular Sky Atlantic channel, which broadcasts critically acclaimed American TV programmes like Mad Men, Game of Thrones and many more.
That latter option seems the least likely, however, as Sky would ideally like to keep Sky Atlantic all to themselves. In a climate where Ofcom are making waves in trying to level out the Pay-TV market they might well struggle. Ofcom rule on issues when they believe a company is inhibiting competition by withholding major advantages to competitors in order to force customers to their service. So far we've yet to hear rumblings from Ofcom about a possible wholesale must offer ruling for Sky Atlantic, but given how hard Sky fought (and eventually lost) to keep their Sky Sports channels away from competitors boxes, Ofcom might well choose to leave Sky alone rather than engage in what could turn out to be another 8 year fight in the courts.
Regardless, this is great news for Virgin Media customers who from today can watch Sky News HD and Sky Sports News HD on their Virgin Media boxes at no extra charge, adding to a service which has already won plenty of plaudits from those who've signed up to it. On the deal Stephane David, Executive Director of Content at Virgin Media, had this to say "The addition of these channels to our line-up ensures our customers can enjoy even more breaking news, gripping sports stories and insightful features in the stunning clarity of HD. This launch also means our customers can watch an unrivalled range of sports TV in HD, including every Sky Sports channel, BT Sport and ESPN."
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