Sky have had the opportunity to be pioneers, to show others that there is another way and that change is good. Instead, they’ve got greedy and failed.
Last year, Sky announced that they would be launching their 3D service and that pubs would get the chance to try it out before the domestic market got their hands on it.
Cue me getting all arsey and writing a blog to the effect that thousands of football hooligans, should their team not win, would be able to throw the very expensive 3D glasses needed to view such broadcasts at the very expensive televisions needed to show three dimensional games
At that time I didn’t have Sky in my pub, despite deliberating over it many times. But that blog prompted a meeting with my Business Development Manager who, unlike most other publicans it seems, I get on quite well with. He felt that Sky would be beneficial to my pub and so an agreement was made whereby my pub company would support the installation of Sky for a defined period of time.
The maths of my share of the deal meant putting Sky in to my pub became viable. Just.
It also meant that I would have time to try and build up some extra custom to cover the full cost of a Sky contract and, if it didn’t work, I could cancel Sky at the end of the fixed term and wouldn’t be too much out of pocket. I rang Sky and arranged the installation forthwith.
Since then, it hasn’t worked. Despite buying – no, Sky don’t give any promotional point of sale away – a big banner to advertise games, blogging, twittering and using Facebook to promote matches, and making sure any appropriate A-boards or internal boards are marked up with relevant sporting details, nine months down the line Sky has barely covered my financial part of the agreement with my brewery.
Earlier this year, rateable values in pubs increased dramatically, causing many publicans to worry that their Sky bill, which is based on the rateable value of their business, would also rocket. This prompted Sky to announce that they were going to review their pricing structure, recognising that many pubs are facing financial hardship at the moment. The promise was that they would be fair and helpful to this side of the industry.
Indeed, just this week, the ‘new’ pricing structure was announced, promising to take in to account the different natures of pub businesses and to include 3D and HD free in every commercial contract.
And then the new prices arrived and, what appears to have happened, is that everybody at Sky sat around a table and said: “bugger it, we’ll just charge the same way we always have.”
Like so many who commented on the original story on this website, the details of my new contract arrived this morning and, guess what, my bill is based up on my rateable value and has actually increased by a staggering thirty percent. I had been hoping that Sky, who are on the thick end of negative press when it comes to pubs more regularly than the beer tie is, were going to come up with something new and exciting that would have helped the industry, but they haven’t.
Because my pub is predominately wet lead and doesn’t have letting accommodation, I’m entitled to no discounts, and the offer of free HD is merely a sop to try and detract from the fact that the bill has gone up by so much. I’d rather pay my current bill and the £10 HD add-on than the extra £100 a month it’s actually going to cost.
If I contact Sky to discuss reducing or cancelling my domestic package, I get offered movies free for three months, or discounted rates for the sports package. Anything to keep me heading off to one of the myriad competition that are rapidly becoming available.
But because Sky have the questionably-legal monopoly on the commercial market, if you call them to discuss cancellation you are merely met with a disinterested verbal shrug.
The television broadcasting giant have had the opportunity to be pioneers, to lead the way, to do something exciting and energetic to revive this sector and drive the industry. They’ve had the opportunity to show others that change is good, that change can help, but they have failed.
Instead, like so many, they’ve simply been greedy.