It has been a good 24 hours for Richard Branson’s Virgin Media. Last night Virgin Media’s Main digital TV offering, Virgin 1, got off to a solid start with Riches, a drama starring Eddie Izzard. Today the Competition Commission announced that Sky should sell it’s critical 17.9% stake in ITV. Media Guardian reports that:
The drama meant Virgin 1 was the third most watched multichannel outlet at 10pm, beaten only by BBC3’s EastEnders repeat, which pulled in 531,000 viewers and a 3.4% share over 30 minutes, and Sky One’s Prison Break, which picked up 464,000 and 3.3% over an hour.
This is not exactly changing the face of broadcasting overnight but it is a sign of what a genuinely multi-channel and multi-media company market will look like after 2012 when the analogue signal is switched off.
It opens up the idea of more competition (if Secretary of State John Hutton agrees with the Competition Commission that is) and possibly more investment in some decent programmes. Although the fact that a re-run of a BBC soap is still top of the digital pops might be a more realistic indicator of what the future holds.