Editorial: Upstart Sky proves its point

At the tender age of 20, BSkyB is the youngest company ever to be named Britain's Most Admired Company.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT Editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The speed of this achievement is quite extraordinary. The award is a tribute to a ruthlessly focused, highly competitive outfit that has left its media peer group for dead.

I recall its launch clearly - there was all sorts of hilarity about poor content, 'Squariels' and satellites that didn't work. The first years were precarious and nearly dragged founder Rupert Murdoch under. But the turning point came in 1992, with the first exclusive deal to show live Premier League football. Murdoch believed, correctly, that live sport - especially football - was the 'battering ram' for pay TV. It takes someone who can recall Grandstand or the beaming Dickie Davies to realise how brutally he has battered the oppo.

Sceptics thought recession might be its undoing. Sky costs me getting on for 60 quid a month, but I'm not the only one reluctant to give it up. Indeed, it's still growing and is now in six million UK homes. With the arrival of high definition, broadband and football matches available on your iPhone, the innovations keep coming.

Now it has to move on to the next phase - out of adolescence and into maturity. Sky has been a pretty bolshie kid. The previous CEO, now chairman, James Murdoch, loved being The Outsider, constantly referring to Sky's 'challenger' culture and relentlessly attacking the TV establishment. But now Sky is the establishment and has attracted the notice of those who feel it wields too much power. So TV's 'Crown Jewels' have been extended to include the Ashes, and the competition is muttering about widening access to live football. And how will Sky cope with the furious growth of streamed internet content? The next couple of years will be crucial to its long-term future. In the meantime, it can bask in some deserved glory.

We've attracted a little bit of admiration ourselves. I've been awarded the British Society of Magazine Editors' Business Editor of the Year for non-weekly magazines. That's five times in the past nine years and a record. It's an honour for the whole MT team and an indication that during tough times a refusal to compromise on quality pays off. We still aim to bring you practical advice, insight, stimulation and inspiration every time you open the magazine or go on the website.

Happy Christmas, and let's hope for an end to the UK's economic glums in the new year.

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