Media Lifeline: BSkyB subscribers

After the launch of high definition, is there any more the broadcaster can do to tempt subscribers?

August 1995: BSkyB, which launched in 1989, grew steadily right from the off, passing the one-million subscriber mark in 1990. It reached five million in 1995, under the leadership of the chief executive, Sam Chisholm - coinciding with its debut as a blue-chip company (it had floated as a publicly quoted company the year before) featured in the FTSE 100 index.

October 1998: With the ITV-backed ONdigital (a precursor to Freeview) about to launch, BSkyB, under its new chief executive, Tony Ball, beats it to the punch by launching SkyDigital - and steals a march by giving away free decoder boxes. It's a costly exercise but it helps drive subscription levels. It signs more than one million digital subscribers by the summer of 1999 and converts its entire customer base by 2001.

August 2004: Ball oversees the launch of Sky+ in 2001. He is succeeded in February 2004 by James Murdoch, who, in August 2004, predicts Sky will reach ten million subscribers by the end of 2010. In the autumn, subscriptions pass seven million.

May 2006: And innovation continues with the launch of high-definition services in May 2006. As BSkyB passes the eight-million subscriber mark in the summer, it also announces that it's to offer packages that will include free broadband internet access to customers who sign up for TV and phone services too. It also launches a service making films, sports and entertainment content available for download to personal computers.

July 2009: The chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, who succeeded Murdoch in December 2007, denies BSkyB is "recession proof". But its results for the quarter to the end of June reveal 124,000 new subscribers, taking its total customer base to 9.4 million.

Fast forward ...

October 2012: But all good things must come to an end. While Sky reached its ten million target with one day to spare in 2010, the analogue TV switch-off one year later is achieved on schedule and it becomes apparent that, in a fully digitised market, the Freeview, Freesat, cable and BSkyB tribes have all become entrenched in their habits. Sky's subscription growth seems to have stalled, just shy of 11 million.