British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC said Tuesday it will launch a new Internet-based pay-television service in the first half of 2012 amid mounting competition from Netflix Inc. and Lovefilm, as the U.K.'s biggest pay-TV operator reported a 8.4% jump in first-half net profit on strong demand for its products.
BSkyB, better known to its customers as Sky, said the new service will initially offer access to its movies, and will expand to offer sport and entertainment "soon afterwards."
When writing about the lack of progression in the American cable industry, I often think kindly on BSkyB's services in the United Kingdom. Although many residents may take its service for granted, Sky offers a surprisingly progressive take on the television question. With support for Xbox 360, streaming, and various innovations with its UI, Sky television is, in my opinion, leaps and bounds ahead of the majority of American television services.
Expanding into streaming media makes sense, and embodies much of what most American cable providers are so fearful to embrace. The mere recognition of the rapidly shifting industry on the part of BSkyB is a welcome endorsement of the company's viability, and certainly serves to justify the company's increasing profits.
Offering the service freely to current subscribers -- and providing a means for purchasing the service sans television subscription -- is a thoroughly attractive offer, particularly with the promise of expansion into sport and television entertainment in coming months. This is precisely what so many have been hoping for content providers like HBO to achieve, but their requests have thus far fallen upon deaf ears.
Having demonstrated emphatic success in the marketplace, perhaps American cable providers will observe BSkyB's unique approach with educational intrigue.
But it seems more likely they will remain blissfully (and shamefully) ignorant, regardless of their increasing irrelevance and customer discontent. It's days like this that I'm just pleased I have a VPN and a Sky television subscription in England.