Satellite news 09.05.05


Sky is 'on track for 8 million subs by year-end'

Sky says it is on track to reach its target of 8 million subscribers by the end of 2005, having reached 7,704,000 by the end of March. Its latest financial results show that net additions stood at 95,000 in the quarter ending March 31, while the number of Sky+ subscribers was up 128,000 to a total of 770,000, and multiroom subscribers grew by 90,000 to 563,000. Profits also continued to grow - rising Ł273 million from Ł243 million a year ago.

Sky signs up Channel 4's cricket sponsor

Sky Sports has signed former Channel 4 cricket sponsor Computeach to sponsor some of its key international and domestic cricket programming this summer, marking the first time that all cricket on Sky has a broadcast partner. Independent computer training company Computeach's sponsorship includes Sky Sports' coverage of the C&G Trophy, the West Indies clashes against South Africa and Pakistan, the Frizzell County Championship, under-19 England matches and Sky Sports' cricket magazine show 'Extra Cover'. Computeach originally signed up as the official broadcast sponsor of Channel 4 cricket matches in 2004, which were then lost to Sky Sports following an aggressive and lengthy pitch process, in which Sky reportedly paid Ł220m for the four-year rights.

New-look Discovery channels launched

Discovery Home & Leisure and Discovery Health have - as predicted by several weeks ago - both re-launched with new names and looks on Sky Digital. Discovery Health on channel 154 is now called Discovery Home & Health, while Discovery Home & Leisure has become Discovery Real Time on channel 133. The time-shift service Discovery Home & Leisure +1 on channel 134 has also changed to Discovery Real Time +1.

New religious channel starts on Sky

New Christian channel Loveworld TV has made its debut on Sky Digital channel 679 as a free-to-air service. The 24-hour channel's schedule consists of "faith-building and revelation programmes, talk shows, inspiring miracles and healing programmes, featuring Gospel Crusades, motivational programmes, educational programmes, news and documentaries, magazines shows, music and entertainment, dramas, children’s programmes and movies."

Animal Planet gets its own reality TV series

Discovery Animal Planet is linking up with the WWF conservation group to produce a new eco-reality series that will be broadcast in the second quarter of 2006 on Discovery channels in more than 160 countries. The series will feature a diverse group of seven participants between the ages of 18 and 35 culled from the WWF's Panda Passport programme and Animal Planet's international websites, as well as educational institutions and other sources. The selected candidates will be work alongside local WWF experts who will mentor participants. Learning firsthand about the realities of conservation while at the same time coping with extreme conditions, unfamiliar cultures, tight deadlines and the pressures of protecting wildlife, the participants will have six weeks to accomplish their specific tasks.

EU wants separate Premier League TV deals

It has already been widely reported that, following a European commission investigation, Sky will lose its exclusive grip on live Premier League football when the rights are auctioned next summer. But according to reports in The Guardian, Brussels is demanding something more radical and has told the Premier League that separate live packages should be reserved for cable, Freeview, DSL and digital satellite.

Poor turnout for election TV coverage

BBC One's election coverage was watched by two and a half times as many viewers as ITV's coverage, according to official viewing figures. However, fewer than 8.5 million viewers tuned into Thursday's television coverage of the U.K. general election results. BBC1's ratings Thursday peaked at 6 million at 10.45 pm, when the results of the first seat was called, averaging 4.7 million between 10pm-1am, according to overnight ratings from BARB.

More digital TV news in brief...

ITV's 50th anniversary programming set to hit UK screens in September includes What Did ITV Do for Me?, 49 Up and Best Ever Ads... BBC Worldwide has announced that Olga Edridge will step down from her post as director of joint ventures and new channels at the end of the month... Buena Vista International Television-Asia Pacific has announced a multi-year licensing deal with Zee Network, for its newly rebranded English movie channel, formerly known as Zee Movie Zone, which may launch in the UK later in 2005.

Regards Satdude.