If you’re even briefly acquainted with such antiquities as video recorders you already know what a ripoff catchup TV is. Never, in the annals of human history, have so many owed so much to so few just for the privilege of watching a few hours of missed television dross!
So far, you’ve done pretty well out of life. You have a job, a car and a modest home. You might even share your life with a significant other or you could simply be playing the field. But you know that round every corner there’s someone waiting to bend you over and remind you that life isn’t the bed of roses you thought it was. They want your money. In fact, they want a lot of your money just so you can watch a week old episode of ‘V’.
Who are they? It’s the cable and media companies, of course. Here are three of the biggest and most expensive players in the catchup TV ambush that’s just waiting to blow a hole in your wallet…
Rupert Murdoch was severely pissed off when he failed to get his hands on all of Sky’s shares. No amount of pandering to Tory MP’s was going to get his arse off the hook for the dirty tricks News of the World reporters carried out in the name of entertainment. Sadly for Rupert, he’ll have to go to his grave worth a couple of billion less than he is now – bummer. We’re not really interested in the money Sky makes but I guess you do want to know how much their catch up television service will cost, right?
Nothing. That’s right, it’s free. All you need is a Sky subscription, broadband and a HD+ package. To meet those requirements you’re going to have to pay out around £39 a month (this is the absolute bargain bucket offering and the channels you get with this package are pretty crap). That’s £462 a year. Read it: not far off £500 a year because you are unable to plan your life round the next episode of Red Dwarf X.
Fact: Richard Branson is far cooler and far, far richer than your granddad (unless your gramps is Richard Branson, in which case, I tip my hat to you). Beyond his vast wealth, Branson is a serial entrepreneur estimated to be worth about £3 billion. During his lifetime he has started 320 companies including Virgin Airlines which sprang into life because he was pissed off with the state of the commercial aviation industry. Another of his money spewing offspring, Virgin Media, offers catch up services… for a price.
Not to be outdone by Sky, Virgin came up with the Classic Collection. Think of it as a kind of ‘Sky very-Lite’. It’s definitely cheaper and (a phone, broadband and viewing package) only costs £24 a month but then you need to factor in the additional installation fee of £49.99 and £169 for a Freeview+ HD box. Grand total: £507. A touch more expensive than Sky with one major flaw: viewing options are crap – less than half the channels you’ll find on Sky.
Apart from shouting obscenities at city boys and girls who’re willing to part with their dignity in order to become his lap dog, what is Alan Sugar best know for? Got it yet? No? AMSTRAD. Back in the 80’s, this company could have been the Microsoft of Britain. So what went wrong? The computers were crap! A series of ill-fated products followed including video phones and a PDA heavier than the War and Peace tomes made AMSTRAD a bit of laughing stock. Well, Alan’s back with a new venture: WhoView. Who’s laughing now?
Err, me. YouView is being pitched as the bargain bucket of the catch up TV genre. The problem is that it’s far from cheap. The box will set you back about £299. So far, so good and far cheaper than either Sky or Virgin but you need a broadband connection with a minimum speed of 3MB. Let’s say you can get a decent connection for £8 a month. That brings the total cost to £495. Being the nice guys that they are, BT will give you a YouView box for free if you sign up for their Infinity broadband – a snip at £29 a month. On a final note, don’t expect to be left in shock and awe at the selection of channels available.
Three choices. All expensive but none of them really lack the killer blow that would have me running, debit card in hand, to fall into a particular company’s tender, caring embrace. If you’re already a subscriber to one of the providers above then you probably don’t have a problem forking out a bit more cash for catch up TV. Personally, I can live with Freeview and my creaky old video recorder as I really don’t want to pay out to see the warped landscape that is that is a news reporters skin under the unflattering glare of HD TV.