Tiscali sets 200,000 TV subscriber target

Thinking big, starting small

Tiscali's boss has set ambitious targets for its TV over broadband service, after the firm's latest results showed it has been losing subscribers.

Reuters reports that the Italian-owned firm wheeled out UK chief executive Mary Turner to reassure investors that its plans are on track. She said the firm is aiming for 200,000 TV subscribers by the end of 2008.

There should be about 50,000 "registered" customers by the end of this year, Turner added. A Tiscali rep told us this means people who have ordered the service. Most will be receiving the service, she added, since it takes about two weeks to activate.

As we noted in mid-November, since paying £100m for HomeChoice in 2006, Tiscali has seen customer numbers fall from 45,000 to 36,000.

It claims it has been concentrating on building LLU network infrastucture, and that a full ad campaign in the new year will see punters flock back.

Tiscali's marketing department certainly has some work to do before the service is ready to compete on the national stage with Sky, Virgin Media, and BT's TV offerings. What appears to be its baffling website's main TV page currently trumpets series six of The West Wing, which aired in 2004, even though the content it offers is arguably stronger than BT Vision. Tiscali offers the full range of Sky Sports channels, for example.

BT Vision is available free to Total Broadband customers, however, while Tiscali compels subscribers to take a pay-TV bundle.

BT is struggling to meet its aim of 200,000-plus by the end of this financial year, despite a massive advertising campaign, and a much larger base of broadband customers than Tiscali. Orange has failed to meet its target of launching IPTV in the UK this year.

We wish Tiscali luck, but form suggests targets ain't worth the press release they're written on in the broadband telly market. ®

Bootnote

A Tiscali employee took it upon himself to do some astroturfing in our comments section when we wrote about the customer drop-off. He disputed his own firm's official numbers, writing: "We have not lost customers, in fact we've gained a lot. Lots of people are now using the service nationwide. Don't believe everything that you read."

If he would like to contradict his boss' assessment of current numbers - less than 50,000 - as well as his own firm's last set of quarterly results, we're all ears.

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