Archive for January 16th, 2006

Virgin and the four play plus super deal of the future

I spent an evening last week with some folk who I used to work with at Talk turned to the proposed four-play super deal currently currently being touted by Richard Branson and if/could/should Virgin and NTL merge. Even when I was at Virgin back in 2000 NTL were always in and out. They bought the internet side of things soon after I seem to remember.

According to this
The new company would have:
– 2.5m broadband internet customers, the largest in the UK
– 3.2m TV customers, the second largest in the UK
– 4.3m fixed-line telephony accounts, the second largest in the UK
– 5m mobile phone customers
– Revenues in excess of £4bn.

That’s not bad.

So far, so mega corp to rival Sky right? However where I think it’ll either crash or glide is just how well the different services are connected, and if it plugs into all the other Virgin brands and services. Lots of companies offer three things, (e.g. Homechoice), few can offer four plus entertainment, travel, finance and space flight. Un-used minutes on your mobile? Convert them to Virgin train miles. Plane delays? Instant free texts to your virgin mobile. Messages sent to your TV from the seat of your plane. Anything’s possible I guess. It could work in a similar way to Nectar points. At The rate things are going in ten years time I’ll be buying books from London Energy and getting my electricity from Amazon.

I met Richard Branson once, in fact I filmed him for an e-card singing Christmas Carols (music isn’t his strong point! I’ve still got a copy somewhere). Anyway, he seemed like a nice guy who was into cool stuff and up for a laugh. As last week’s Horizon (Space Tourists) showed, with him talking about Virgin Galactic. It was quite a sad programme in some ways, particularly Colin Pillinger lookalike Burt Rutan, the designer of Spaceship One. He ended the show with, “If I’d had the the courage to do this in the 70s, affordable spaceflight would be here now”. Damn you Burt! You’re the reason I’m not writing this on the flippin’ Moon! Anyway once Galactic’s up and running, Branson could be the Willy Wonka for the 21st Century and offer a lucky ticket to any premium Virgin super package subscriber, the sort of people who fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class would be up for a space ride I think. Think of the media frenzy.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
January 2006