ONdigital hits the net

11th July 2000

ONdigital, the Pay TV and interactive services platform announced today its latest quarterly subscriber figures. As at 30 June 2000 it had signed up 774,000 customers, an increase of 15% since March 2000 and a more than three-fold increase in the year since 30 June 1999.

  • ONdigital subscribers reach 774,000 at June 30, an increase of 15% in three months - on target to reach 1 million by year end and 2 million by end 2002
  • ONnet, ONdigital's full internet service through the TV to launch this Autumn
  • First ever TV internet portal with content zones to include news, entertainment and shopping
  • X-links: direct links from programme or advertisement to related website; another world first
  • Top partners including Abbey National, Cahoot, Co-op Travel, Iceland and thomascook.com
  • New ONdigital premium Sports channel to launch in 2001, based on exclusive Football League, Worthington Cup, UEFA Champions League and ATP Men's Tennis Masters

Stuart Prebble, ONdigital's Chief Executive, commented:

It's been another good quarter for customer growth. We remain on course to achieve our target of one million customers by the end of this year and two million by the end of 2002.
In the first half of this year we have transformed ONdigital from being a multichannel TV company to one with an interactive platform packed with new media services. In the past six months we have completed the roll out of digital text to virtually every customer. We have launched ONmail, our Internet email through the TV, ONrequest, our impulse Pay per View movie and sports channel, added new games to ONgames1 and launched ONgames2. We have launched ONoffer to bring special offers to our customers from household names like Ladbrokes and Oddbins. And in May, with Carlton Active, we launched trials of interactive programming and advertisements.
No other platform has ever launched so much interactivity in such a short time.
Now we will take interactivity to an entirely new level. I can announce that from this Autumn we will make the Internet available to our customers through their TVs; no dish, no cable and no PC. Not the walled garden of other platforms, but full Internet access. The service will be called ONnet and will have a portal with several content layers. Our partners on the portal already include Abbey National, Bigsave.com, BlueSq, Cahoot, Co-op Travel, Iceland and thomascook.com. We're negotiating with nearly 100 more.
For the first time, people watching TV programmes or advertisements will be able to click straight through to supporting websites. This facility, which we call cross-linking, will transform the way people watch and interact with their TVs. It unleashes the true potential of digital TV.
Last month we won from Sky the exclusive rights to broadcast live Football League and Worthington Cup matches, from 2001. This deal means that ONdigital customers have access to more football than customers of any other platform. These rights, along with our existing exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League and the ATP Men's Tennis Masters Series, will form the foundation of ONdigital's first premium Sports Channel, to be launched in 2001. We will be looking for other rights for this channel over the next year.
The introduction of Internet and interactive services provides us with significant opportunities to increase average subscriber revenue levels. And every idTV that is sold - even to non-subscribers - represents a potential customer for ONdigital's Pay per View and interactive services.


ONdigital, the Pay TV and interactive services platform announced today its latest quarterly subscriber figures. As at 30 June 2000 it had signed up 774,000 customers, an increase of 15% since March 2000 and a more than three-fold increase in the year since 30 June 1999.

New media

From this Autumn, ONnet, ONdigital's Internet service will be online. With a stunning new portal, designed by BBC Resources - the first Internet portal to be created for the TV - it will provide full Internet access, not the walled garden approach of other platforms. It will use a sleek futuristic box the size of a paperback book, with no need to spend hundreds of pounds on a personal computer.

From its content zones ONnet will provide one click access to the websites of some of the country's biggest household names. On the commercial front, partners already include Abbey National, Bigsave.com, BlueSq, Cahoot, Co-op Travel, Iceland and thomascook.com. As well as these signed partners, ONdigital is in detailed negotiation with nearly 100 others. And beyond the portal lie millions of other websites to explore.

And ONnet will include another world first by linking the broadcast stream directly to the Internet. Crosslinking is an innovatory, but simple system that allows an icon to be broadcast during a programme or an advertisement. One click on the icon will take the viewer straight to the website of the programme or advertisement. This will transform people's use of the TV and release the full potential of digital television.

Programming, content and rights

In June 2000, ONdigital signed a deal with The Football League to carry exclusive live and recorded coverage of the Football League and Worthington Cup from the 2001 season. The deal, which also involves ITV Sport, cost £315 million over three years.

Sport, particularly football, continues to be the main driver of Pay TV services. ONdigital's impressive portfolio of exclusive rights now includes UEFA Champions League, Football League and Worthington Cup and the ATP Men's Masters tennis series. This is a solid foundation for a top quality premium sports channel. And ONdigital will continue to bid strategically for top sports rights whenever they become available.

During the last quarter FourText, The Adult Channel, TVX, TV Travel Shop and Simply Money have all joined the platform, as well as the new games and Pay per View Channels. Nickelodeon, The Paramount Comedy Channel and ITN News will be joining over the next 6 months.


ONmail, ONdigital's Internet email through the TV service, launched in March. Customers have the facility to read and write email while still watching their TVs.

ONrequest, ONdigital's joint venture pay-per-view service with SDN, went on air at the start of May. Initially broadcasting major Hollywood movies, in future it will also show Pay Per View sports and entertainment events. It has proved highly popular with customers and will also be available to anyone owning an integrated digital TV (idTV).

ONdigital and Carlton Active began their trials of interactive programmes and advertisements in May. The advertisers included Procter & Gamble, the AA, M & G Securities and Onken yoghurt. The commercials were shown on Carlton Food Network and on Carlton Cinema, and will go on to Carlton's London ITV service later this year for customers with ONdigital boxes or idTVs.

Games have been significantly enhanced with the introduction of a second games channel - ONgames2. Games are being refreshed at regular intervals.


Asda customers will be able to pick up a prepaid box when they shop - the first and only digital TV product available in Asda. Prepaid is continuing to create a whole new market for set top boxes, just as it did for mobile phones. Asda joins WH Smith, Sainsburys, Woolworth, Dixons, Comet and other retailers. ONdigital boxes are also being successfully marketed door to door and through the Internet.

ONdigital is forecasting a significant boost in the sales of idTVs now that they all come preloaded with 6 primary ONdigital channels. For those sets that do not have ONdigital's conditional access built in, ONdigital will provide a module, little more than the size of a credit card, to deliver ONdigital's channels. The ONdigital Conditional Access Module (CAM) will be available as soon as final tests are completed.

Notes to Editors:

Of the 774,000 total, 34,000 have signed contracts but are yet to activate their smartcards or have been installed without subscriptions, mainly in dealers, for demonstration purposes.