Hello Dido! I am still here!

Nigel  Walley   May 2012 – I came across an astounding article in today’s Times about Talk Talk with an interview of CEO Dido Harding.  The article announced that TT are gearing up for a ‘major incursion into the television sector this summer‘.    It has started hiring engineers so that it can start delivering TV over its broadband network.

You can imagine that this has all come as a bit of a surprise to those of us who are current, long-standing customers of their TV service.  It is further evidence of Talk Talk’s bizarre attempt to ignore or deny the fact that they acquired a TV service when they bought Tiscali (who also acquired it, when they bought Homechoice).

If you go into one of their high street stores, or ring one of their standard call centres, they deny they even have a TV service.  They won’t let us have any new set top boxes, or even take our existing boxes with us if we move home.   So here we have a telecoms company, taking money off people for a TV service they would prefer to deny they have.

They may claim a technical point that the TalkTalk TV service runs over the old Homechoice broadband network, so isn’t technically a TalkTalk product.  Well here is my message to Dido – ‘it has a stuffing great TalkTalk logo on it!  It exists, and so do I’.

It may never have got more that 100k subs, but the TalkTalk / Homechoice service  is still market leading in a number of functionality and design aspects. More importantly, there are still thousands of us who are still paying customers of the service.

I have had the Talk TalkTV service at home and at work for 10 years (admittedly, it has been rebranded at least twice through that period).

It would be nice if, in all their talk about improving your customer service, that they actually acknowledged some of their most long-suffering customers of a TV service that a few of us have quite a bit of affection for.  As current TV customers we have not even been told about the implications for us, of the proposed launch of their new TV service. Are they going to turn the old one off?  If so when?  We deserve to be told.  And anyway, we want to hold a wake for all the people in the VOD industry who did their time working there.  It will be quite a party – email me if you would like to come.  Nigel Walley

ps The article also said ”TalkTalk expects to launch its new TV product in the second quarter ahead of the launch of YouView, the Freeview upgrade’.    What do they mean AHEAD of Youview?  I thought it was Youview?  And has anyone told the Freeview people that YouView is a Freeview upgrade?  Confused? You soon will be…

3 thoughts on “Hello Dido! I am still here!

  1. I have every faith that some of the capabilities and learnings of the Homechoice, Tiscali TV and TalkTalk TV products will transition into the TalkTalk implementation of YouView. Some, but perhaps not all as the market today is more complex than the proprietary IPTV networks envisaged 10 years ago and because I don’t think the industry is as bold as it was back then.

    You will have noticed like me, perhaps with disappointment that many of the things that made HomeChoice / Tiscali TV special have already been stripped from the TalkTalk TV offer, particularly in terms of content and functionality, But I can only imagine that the service is purposely being run down as they ramp up for YouView. We can only hope that TalkTalk and the ex HomeChoice people are invited to play a more active and creative role in defining what YouView can deliver to consumers, ideally something which is distinct, commercially focussed and content-centric.

    I faced the same problem as yourself. For some bizarre reason the legacy TalkTalk TV service is deemed to be on a Tiscali network which from what I can ascertain is in a ‘LLU Limbo’. I – the original contracts have been terminated and so I understand that its not technically or logistically possible to create a new Tiscali connection. (A BT issue perhaps?)

    So I moved house and because the old network exists in a wholesale no-mans-land I wasn’t allowed to take the TV service with me either.

    Like some kind of bizarre custody battle I have negoitated ‘visiting rights’ to my old box by still paying the phone line and subscription at the old property to keep the service live. (Just in case there is a sudden need for a benchmarking or UI review – as is the nature in our business.)

    It is sad in a way as right up until the TalkTalk purchase of Tiscali, the TV platform showed that IPTV had the potential to deliver a reasonable level of service. It could deliver reliable broadcast TV as part of its offer (something BT Vision is only introducing now) including the main Sky and 3rd party thematic channels – which contrasts with the ‘the best of pay TV’ and somewhat lifeless VOD ghetto that BT Vision has created.

    It understood that branded subscription VOD was just as important as transactional VOD (something Telco operators are only now starting to appreciate) and it showed that VOD could be presented to consumers in familiar ways, borrowing from the linear TV experience and socialising content using traditional on-air marketing techniques. – Techniques that it would be vauable for many of the world’s VOD providers to actively pay attention to.

    Not to mention the early implementation of dynamic, themed playlists that gave consumers control over a huge virtual jukebox of music genres and kids content that the viewer could instantly skip through.

    However we have to be honest that apart from a short blip in the mid 2000s, HomeChoice and Tiscali never really actively marketed the product either (with the exception of a few ads in the London Evening Standard and a very short-lived TV campaign.)

    We could debate extensively the pro’s and con’s and factors required for consumers to engage with IPTV, but there are clearly a number of challenges to wrestle with, particularly in a highly competitive market like the UK.

    Finally – I just want to share my loss with you which took place a number of months back. First of all, I absolutely miss my VM:X and all the dance and alternative music videos I saved into my personal playlist. Music I can play back at will and which often coldn’t be found on MTV. I miss the extensive collection of cult and art-house movies the service used to have on-tap that complimented the more mainstream movies on Sky. I miss the ability to skip bad music videos, I miss having catch-up services from the BBC and CH4 which were easy to use and designed specifically for a TV. I miss the customer experience which fused dynamic video with the interactive menus to create a true interactive TV experience. I could go on for ages.

    However I agree that we should perhaps celebrate everything that HomeChoice and Tiscali achieved and hope that the key learnings are transferred, not just to TalkTalk’s YouView services, but to platforms around the world given that there is a substantial HomeChoice diaspora already across a number of continents.

  2. Interesting article…. I too am a TV customer. I had hoped that YouView might finally be an improvement on what we have now. But, there are no live TV feeds over the internet. These are all provided through freeview aerial. If I used an aerial this would be fine, but I don’t. The technology may be better, and usability may be better, but if offers less functionality so it’s a step backswards. I think I’d be better off getting satalite dish & a Humax FreeSat box.

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