Jul 30, 2008

[TV] SkyCable's PPV Expansion

satellite center IIImage by DCvision2006 via FlickrI've been a (legal) SkyCable subscriber for some time now and given my recent trip to the US and my exposure to US cable / satellite TV programming, I've been pretty interested in following the continued evolution of our own advanced entertainment options. Given the almost ridiculous amount of channels one can get in the US these days, our own local cable TV offerings are sadly limited and once can't help but compare and contrast one to the other.

In 2006 SkyCable launched it's SkyCable Platinum package, which is essentially the equivalent of add-on channel packages in the US like for additional HBO channels and expansion / development of these offerings has been slow and rather uneventful. It wasn't until last year that they really started pushing their "DigiBox" product, which is essentially the long-overdue next step into set-top cable boxes. Given I live in a, well, high-risk area when it comes to cable TV piracy, I welcomed the conversion to digital (read: encrypted) signals with open arms and waited for SkyCable to require the new set-top boxes as opposed to me needing to pay for an upgrade.

As expected, that inevitable happened in my area at a rather ironic timing: just when I was about to come home from the US. Here's me being exposed to how cable TV works over there about to experience the first baby steps into the same direction back home. Sweet. It was a somewhat buggy transition because the signals in our area were upgraded to digital before our DigiBox had been delivered, but after a few trans-Pacific calls I got that resolved and the new box was delivered and set up free of charge. The signal quality was miles away from our sometimes snowy cable signal before and I was silently happy that our cable-pirating neighbors were probably in the dark by now.

While many people don't see the need to have a set-top box and merely see it as an added annoyance given you now need to have two remote controls to watch TV, I had realized that it was important since if we were ever to progress to more advanced TV programming, addressable cable boxes like this were needed in order to do that. As much as I was sure that I wouldn't be jumping into rampant pay-per-view purchasing anytime soon, just knowing that it was a viable option available to me was a comforting thought.

Of all the cable TV providers, SkyCable is definitely trying to make headway in this direction given (1) they're the first to start requiring such devices and (2) they're also the first to offer premium channel packages whereas other providers are still trying to compete using the all-in-one package strategy. As much as I enjoyed the convenience of that kind of an offering, I knew that if we were to get access to better TV, it would mean compromises and movement into PPV offerings.

More recently we've seen SkyCable start to offer PPV programming centering around sporting events like the last Pacquiao fight and now the upcoming Beijing Olympics. It's certainly an interesting development and I found myself checking out their pricing for such packages today but was disappointed to find out that it would cost P1,500 to get access to their two Season Pass channels covering the Olympics. Bugger - that's almost twice the price of my base package.

While the miser in me refuses to pay that much for limited-time programming, I'm sur there are bigger sports enthusiasts out there willing to pay that amount and I'm definitely not going to stop them. I must admit I am more tempted to explore the HBO offerings or their other channel set known as The Metro Pack, but I'm still weighing the cost-benefit ratios for such a purchasing decision and given that I know there are a whole lot more than just three HBO channels out there and it might be more worth it to wait for those channels to become available as well.

Long story short, TV here in the Philippines is finally evolving and I'm happy to see the changes. As much as I hate having to pay extra for these kinds of things, I recognize why we need to do so and will eventually find myself paying a little extra myself should I finally decide to get some of their Platinum offerings. This is the future of TV, I suppose.

I can hardly wait for someone to start offering DVR services. Not THAT's something I'm willing to pay and arm and a leg for.
Zemanta Pixie

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