Sky ups the ante with outdoor attack on Virgin Media
LONDON - Sky has once again upped the ante after dropping its basic channels package from Virgin Media late last night, launching a national 48-sheet outdoor campaign encouraging the network's customers to switch to its service.
The broadcaster has now launched an outdoor campaign flagging up the fact that Virgin Media subscribers will no longer receive new episodes of 'Lost' and '24', two of Sky One's most popular shows.
It steers viewers to a website at www.sky.com/switch, which includes a "rescue package", which allows Virgin Media customers to switch to Sky for £15 a month with free equipment and free standard installation.
Earlier today, Sky made good with its threat and pulled its basic channels package, which includes Sky One and Sky News, from Virgin Media following a breakdown in negotiations between the two broadcasters.
No deal was struck to re-sign the channels by the deadline of midnight last night, creating a public relations nightmare between Virgin Media and its 3.3m subscribers, who will no longer be able to receive hit programmes such as '24', 'Lost', 'The Simpsons' and 'Battlestar Galactica'.
Virgin Media will now replace Sky One with its Virgin Central brand, which will now transmit on channel 120. Virgin Central is a video-on-demand channel offering shows such as 'Spooks', 'The Office' and 'Alias'.
The move is part of an ongoing public relations spat between the pair, which was started earlier today with Virgin Media branding the vacant channels which, up until last night had carried Sky News and Sky Sports News, as "Sky Snooze" and "Sky Sports Snooze".
The network has also said that it will offer viewers a chance to catch up with their favourite shows in an, as yet to be scheduled, catch-up weekend incorporating its top rated shows.
A Sky spokesman said: "We're disappointed that Virgin Media decided to drop our basic channels. Over the last few weeks, Virgin tried to argue that Sky's basic channels didn't matter to its customers. Today they've even tried to ridicule them by giving them childish names.
"We know that Sky channels attract some of cable TV's biggest and most appreciative audiences and we don't want any of them to miss out. To help viewers to keep up with their favourites, we're planning to run all our big shows over a catch-up weekend."
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