Sky Television expects to rake in significant extra revenue by offering email through its digital TV service.
Those who take up the email service, to be on offer by the end of the year, will be charged on a per-use basis and with more than 250,000 digital subscribers the service will provide a substantial extra revenue source for Sky, says communications director Tony O’Brien.
In February Sky announced that it lost $19.6 million for the half year ended December 31, compared with a net loss of $4.7 million in the prior half year.
An interactive programming guide, weather and games are scheduled to be available in the third quarter of the year, with sports statistics and email coming in the fourth, says O’Brien. “Sky is planning a progressive rollout of an interactive programming guide, weather, games and sports statistics, with email the final step.”
Software enabling the email service is being developed in partnership with Australian interactive TV application developer Massive TV. Users will be able to access existing email accounts, create new ones and send email from their TV to a PC or to another TV with the service connected and to send text messages.
“The only thing you won’t be able to do is open attachments.” To do that, forwarding the email to a PC will be necessary, cutting out subscribers who don’t have one.
Those who sign up will be able to key in their emails either by an infrared wireless keyboard, for which there will be an extra charge, or using their remote control in the same way as telephones with numbers matching letters.
O’Brien wouldn’t comment on the cost of setting up the service but says “there’s a huge market, a huge opportunity out there – it’s very appropriate for people who don’t have a PC.”
Field trials have been conducted and the software used for the email and other interactive applications is being fine tuned, O’Brien says.