Murdoch: Sky Anywhere is defensive play against cord cutting

BSkyB chairman James Murdoch has said the Sky Anywhere strategy will help defend the satellite platform against the threat of cord cutting.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley media conference in Barcelona, Murdoch said it was important to keep in perspective the difference globally between the different kinds of pay-TV businesses.

“Some of the impact of cord cutting, we’ve looked at some [US] numbers that suggest it’s amplified by the digital switchover effect from a year ago when you saw a lot of aggressive offers in the marketplace and a lot of accelerated customer take-up with 12-month deals, and so on, and as those things rolled out it made the comparisons difficult year on year”.

Murdoch told delegates there was no question that the competitive set was shifting with the emergence of Google TV and Apple TV into the marketplace. They were, he said, no longer a theory about the future. “The difference between what’s happening and the Sky businesses is that they’ve taken a more progressive sense with the customers for sometime. When you look at Sky in the UK, the company has been offering TV Anywhere, the ability to take content with you for many years. So whether it’s consuming Sky Movies on your X-box or on your lap-top this is something we’ve been investing in for a long time”.

He said it was also important that the pricing model for pay-TV in Europe was different to the US with more flexible packages and cheaper points of entry.

Speaking about Sky Deutschland, Murdoch said that despite the differences, there were also similarities with other digital markets. “It was only eight years ago in Italy when people were saying Stream and Telepiu never worked and Sky Italia can never work, and seven years later they say it’s the driver of growth, these things are never totally easy and it’s not a question of one contract or one set of rights or one marketing campaign”.

Murdoch issued a warning to UK and European authorities that governments needed to make choices and assess the benefits of having a digital TV player in the UK market and all the benefits it brings with the potential loss of an £8 billion business.