ONdigital Claims Million Customers, 10% Interactive

[London, ENGLAND] Digital TV service ONdigital says it has
signed its millionth customer in the U.K. and has over
a hundred thousand users of its online services.

“Two years from launch we’ve transformed ONdigital from
simply the easiest way to receive multi-channel television
into the most interactive TV platform, offering a wide
variety of services, from pay TV, and impulse pay per
view to Internet access through the TV,” said ONdigital’s
Chief Executive Stuart Prebble.

However, the figures for online access are not yet
high enough to put ONdigital into the Top Ten ISPs in
the U.K, although it probably makes it a Top Twenty
player on a par with a company such as CIX (Compulink
Information eXchange) founded 16 years ago.

One reason for its rapid rise is that ONnet customers
can surf the Internet freely rather than being kept
in a so-called “walled garden” like some users of
the TV-based Web.

On the negative side, ONdigital as a whole has a
stomach-turning annual churn rate of between 15 and
20 percent, but says this is expected to settle at
lower levels as the customer base becomes more mature.

ONdigital is planning to exploit synergies between its
TV and Web activities, for example by enhancing its
football coverage with additional, interactively
accessed information. From February, watchers of
live UEFA Champions League matches will be able to get
statistics, scores from other matches — and,
if the game is dull, trivia quizzes and spot-the-ball
competitions.

ONdigital’s interactive service ONnet has signed
56 brands to provide content to its portal. They
include brands such as Freeserve Auctions, Ladbroke’s,
Monster, Radio Times, thomascook.com, Virgin Travel and
WH Smith.

Bella Hubble, U.K. managing director of recruitment
site monster.co.uk, said that ONnet’s plug and play
simplicity makes it perfect for first-time Internet
users. That fact, she said, is helping Monster extend
its market share and keep one step ahead of its
competitors.

ONdigital’s next milestone is not far away. Thursday
this week sees the launch of Channel 4’s new entertainment
channel, E4.

Already, ONdigital is talking about “the approach of
analogue switch-off” — and says prospective purchasers
of TVs should now opt for an interactive digital TV (idTV).

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