Sky provokes backlash after iPhone viewing offer

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The Independent Football

BSkyB said last night it was not worried that its new Sky Mobile TV service for iPhones, where all Sky's sport content is now available for an all-time low price of £6 per month, will cannabilise sales of its core product – pay-TV sport – and damage its business model.

In one of the most successful launches of a new media product in recent times, the company on Tuesday released the Sky Mobile TV App via the App Store, accessible via iTunes. It costs nothing, and when downloaded by owners of an iPhone or iPod touch, it facilitates access to a package of live sport for a £6 per month subscription.

Users get access to all the Sky Sports channels (including Extra), plus ESPN, Sky Sports News, Sky News and At The Races. Subscribing to those via conventional television costs a minimum of £43.50 per month: £34.50 for a basic Sky deal with sport, and £9 per month on top for ESPN.

The App is already No1 in the download charts, and it is understood that Sky Mobile TV via the App has attracted many thousands of new subscribers already, even after initial technical bugs led to a flood of complaints, most of which have been ironed out.

One effect of the new product is that some users (an unscientific straw poll of feedback on iTunes and message boards suggests up to 5 per cent) are cancelling their TV subscriptions. "Have now cancelled my Sky subscription on my TV because I can watch this. Excellent quality and ESPN as well," said one happy customer. "Worked first time. I'm going to cancel my Sky subscription," said another. A third said: "I can cancel the sports package now as I can watch this on my TV with an AV lead."

A Sky spokeswoman said: "You will have small pockets of people who will have such a good quality picture on the iPhone [they won't want TV]. But it's all about choice."