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What could have made On/ITV Digital a success?

Imagining an alternate future for DTT. (July 2016)

NG
noggin Founding member
The earliest boxes would have worked up until 2k transmissions were turned off in favour of 8k, which put out to service boxes like the Setpal


No - some of the very early boxes (first gen ITV Digital Philips and the Pace DTVA) were rendered useless by a change with something before the 8k switchover ISTR. (Think it was an EIT thing)
JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today
and BSB squarial owners were snobs.


How snobbish can someone be with equipment that hadn't beeen able to recieve anything since 1992?
RE
Rex London London
The thing is if they'd waited a few years until the technology improved we'd have had a digital terrestrial system comprised of a handful of channels that you needed an expensive box to view, a situation which would have appealed to the public even less.


Starting off with a Freeview model might not have worked either. It was difficult enough to grab decent line up of free channels for a long while, let alone in 1998

In all fairness to ONdigital/ITV Digital, they were the victims (albeit a willing one) who believed they had taken advantage of a flawed attempt by the ITC to replicate the revenue beast that had been ITV in the 1960s/70s/80s.


Granada were perhaps captured by this utopian dream; as were late-comers Carlton & Sky/BSkyB, believing it was a new 'cash cow'.

The investment in technology to supply the DTT service simply wasn't there, and it was inferior to others on offer, especially after BSkyB left the consortium.

In 1996 I went for Analogue Cable - I lived in Stockton-on-Tees, and the provider was Comcast. There was a local perception that people with the huge Sky dishes (of the time) were chavs, and BSB squarial owners were snobs. SO I went for Cable.

I then moved to Plymouth. Obviously, many people here were chavs Very Happy so I went for Sky when I moved here and got this place in 1998 as DTT reception was dreadful, and Telewest/Eurobell hadn't even cabled the new houses (something Virgin didn't manage until last year). Within 18 months all the houses in my road had Sky mini-dishes. (I was no longer a chav)

Both ITV Digital and NTL/Telewest (as it was by then) had lost the march on BSkyB, who had very deep pockets and were giving away very expensive DVB-S equipment in preparation for a long-term gain.

BSkyB played the long game. ITV Digital didn't, and frankly, I'm surprised they survived as a viable parent company ITV afterwards. They initiated bad strategies, made very bad commercial decisions, and just about lasted until now.

Even when ITV Digital died out, ITV1 struggled with a downturn in ad revenue, and falling ratings in the age of multichannel television. What did change their perception of Freeview and digital TV was the possibilities of having a family of channels, spurred on by the GSB venture and their plans to launch ITV Gold, which evolved into ITV3. The acquisition of GSB, coupled with Plus being killed off in favour of ITV3, kickstarted the multichannel expansion for ITV. Having FTA multichannels compared to pay ones did benefit ITV greatly. All of Carlton's pay channels failed, while ITV3 and ITV4 have performed significantly better, ratings wise than their GSB predecessors ever did. And it's done wonders for ITV in regards to ad revenue.
REEEEEEEEE
GE
thegeek Founding member London London
I think the ITV Digital boxes might have worked on Freeview... I can't remember using mine for Freeview.

Yes, remember that, until DSO at least, they were the same. The MUXs from the BBC, ITV/C4 and S4C remained on air throughout as they weren't run by ON/ITV Digital. The replacement 'Freeview' MUXs came on air on the same transmitters and using a lot of ex-ITV Digital equipment

and many of the same engineers too. I worked with some people who transferred over to BBC Technology, and built a few multiplexes in a hurry in the former DTA area in TV Centre. The old Philips kit in there was pretty huge - each mux took up a whole rack. By the time its replacement came online in around 2010, a mux was a 4U box.




All of Carlton's pay channels failed, while ITV3 and ITV4 have performed significantly better, ratings wise than their GSB predecessors ever did. And it's done wonders for ITV in regards to ad revenue.

Apparently Carlton were starting to do pretty well, but then found that their main platform disappeared from under them. (I'm surprised that Carlton Select and Cinema continued on cable for a good 9 months after ITV Digital's closure.)
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RE
Rex London London
I think the ITV Digital boxes might have worked on Freeview... I can't remember using mine for Freeview.

Yes, remember that, until DSO at least, they were the same. The MUXs from the BBC, ITV/C4 and S4C remained on air throughout as they weren't run by ON/ITV Digital. The replacement 'Freeview' MUXs came on air on the same transmitters and using a lot of ex-ITV Digital equipment

and many of the same engineers too. I worked with some people who transferred over to BBC Technology, and built a few multiplexes in a hurry in the former DTA area in TV Centre. The old Philips kit in there was pretty huge - each mux took up a whole rack. By the time its replacement came online in around 2010, a mux was a 4U box.




All of Carlton's pay channels failed, while ITV3 and ITV4 have performed significantly better, ratings wise than their GSB predecessors ever did. And it's done wonders for ITV in regards to ad revenue.

Apparently Carlton were starting to do pretty well, but then found that their main platform disappeared from under them. (I'm surprised that Carlton Select and Cinema continued on cable for a good 9 months after ITV Digital's closure.)

The inability to gain Sky carriage, coupled with bad viewing figures is not a good sign for any company trying to get onto multichannel television. World, Kids and CFN struggled even when OnDigital was their strongest platform for ratings, while Cinema and Select died off thanks to the lack of Sky carriage. And cable wasn't even near to the level of popularity that Sky enjoyed.

In GSB's case, their days became numbered once their parent companies aside from Sky merged and set aside a plan for multichannel expansion with ITV3.
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IS
Inspector Sands
Carlton Select was originally a cable only channel called SelecTV*, maybe there was some sort of outstanding carriage agreement?


*it was connected to the production company of the same name: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/selectv-sale-nets-chief-pounds-4m-1326724.html
KE
kernow
I think if ITV Digital had survived a few more years, it could have offered broadband, phone and on demand services (in a similar way to what companies like BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk have been doing for a few years), which would have made it more appealing to consumers, and more likely to have been successful.
LL
London Lite Founding member London London
I think if ITV Digital had survived a few more years, it could have offered broadband, phone and on demand services (in a similar way to what companies like BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk have been doing for a few years), which would have made it more appealing to consumers, and more likely to have been successful.


OnDigital had email I think? If it did, I wouldn't have attempted to compose on using the UI on those receivers.
NW
nwtv2003 Granada North West Today
All of Carlton's pay channels failed, while ITV3 and ITV4 have performed significantly better, ratings wise than their GSB predecessors ever did. And it's done wonders for ITV in regards to ad revenue.

Apparently Carlton were starting to do pretty well, but then found that their main platform disappeared from under them. (I'm surprised that Carlton Select and Cinema continued on cable for a good 9 months after ITV Digital's closure.)


Carlton Select closed down for good in March 2000, it was removed from cable and On Digital at that time. From memory on DTT it was replaced by Taste/CFN on a full time basis (I think 7am-12am). On cable they put Carlton Cinema in its place, albeit from 7pm to 7am.

Taste CFN was withdrawn at the end of November 2001 from cable and DTT.

The only Carlton channel that survived after ITV Digital collapsed was Cinema, which bit the bullet on 31 March 2003.

I think the powers that be thought that keeping these channels away from Sky meant that more people would sign up to DTT, but even ITV1 being DTT only didn't help it.

I used to read What Satellite TV magazine for a while, and I remember an article just before the launch of Sky Digital stating that there had been negotiations between Sky and Carlton for the carriage of their channels, but this never materialised.

I know NTL Digital carried the entire Carlton bouquet of channels, can't say whether Telewest did.
steve
steviegTVreturns
DE
deejay Oxford
I think if ITV Digital had survived a few more years, it could have offered broadband, phone and on demand services (in a similar way to what companies like BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk have been doing for a few years), which would have made it more appealing to consumers, and more likely to have been successful.


OnDigital had email I think? If it did, I wouldn't have attempted to compose on using the UI on those receivers.


It did yes, OnMail I think was what it was called. If you subscribed you were sent (or could purchase, I can't quite remember) a special folding remote control, that had a qwerty keyboard in it. I can't remember if it was clever enough to provide you with an over the air pop up message that you'd received mail, or whether you had to dial up to check. Either way it used dial up 56kbps phone line, so was pretty clunky. I can't say I sent or received very many messages via it.

I cannot recall if there was any sort of web access via an OnDigital box though ...
Two minutes regions...
IS
Inspector Sands
Yes, their Internet access was called onNet:
GE
thegeek Founding member London London
I think Wikipedia might be wrong about Carlton Select, in that case Smile
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