TiVo technology gives Virgin Media the edge over Sky
The technology powering Virgin Media's latest set-top box has given the cable company a marked advantage over its pay TV rival Sky.
Virgin's TiVo box hit the market quietly at the end of last year and has been roundly praised by industry analysts for the ease with which it allows customers to track down their favourite content.
In fact, the cable TV provider has claimed - legitimately - that the TiVo service is starting to change viewing habits, with a quarter of content watched by early adopters accessed by methods other than the traditional electronic programme guide.
While commentators have been singing the praises of the TiVo box, Sky's own broadcasting equipment - including its Sky+HD service - is starting to look a little dated.
With that in mind, it was no surprise to hear Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch belittling Virgin Media's latest innovation in the satellite broadcaster's third-quarter financial results announcement.
Mr Darroch brushed off the threat that Virgin's TiVo offering represents by labelling it as just a "technical gizmo" and insisted the recommendation of "some gadget magazine" will not be enough to persuade viewers to part with their Sky subscriptions.
Consumers are far more concerned with the quality of the interface and ease of use than with the latest technical innovations, he argued.
That may be true of some customers, but for many the advances delivered by the TiVo service are an attractive option that Sky is currently unable to match.
If you want evidence that TV viewers love innovation, you need look no further than Sky's own financial results, which show more than 3.9 million households are now signed up for high-definition TV - a service that itself started as a niche product, but has now crossed over to the mass market.
Sky needs to stop relying on its existing viewing equipment if it wants to avoid falling behind its greatest pay TV rival.
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