TalkTalk when it bounced into the mainstream broadband market in 2006 with its launch of 'free' broadband, looks set to do something similar with the launch of its free YouView set-top box for its TalkTalk Plus customers.
YouView launched only a few weeks ago, with some criticism over the price of the set-top box, but it seems the £299 retail price is no barrier to TalkTalk offering for free the set-top box which combines FreeView HD with catch up TV players, movies on demand, LoveFilm instant and other OTT services. New customers receive the free box in exchange for signing an 18 month telephone/broadband contract, existing TalkTalk Plus customers will have to agree to a new 24 month contract.
The free set-top box includes 12 months subscription to LoveFilm instant. The box will also allow customers to access Sky Sports, Sky Movies and the basic Sky channels on a flexible pay per month basis. There is a pre-registration system for those wanting to take TalkTalk up on the offer.
The free set-top box, is not totally free, as there is a £50 installation fee, which will get an installer attending your property to make sure the new set-top box has reliable internet access. Only those broadband connections that run at 3 Mbps or faster will be able to use the new service, and part of the install visit is to try and optimise internal telephone wiring to get the best speeds possible. In the future the install visit may become optional.
The financial results reveal that the set-top boxes will cost around £140 at the volume they are likely to be buying, hence the contract tie-ins, so that the firm can recover the cost over a period of time, and also reduce churn.
With the UK now having Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk all offering triple play bundles of TV, telephone and broadband, 2012 represents the most vibrant year for consumer choice in the entertainment sector. The roll-out of faster fibre broadband options now gain a new importance to ensure that this level of competition continues, and households will be able to watch mulitple IPTV streams at the same time.