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Virgin Media could drop unlimited downloads plans

Virgin Media could drop unlimited downloads plans

At the FT Digital Media & Broadcasting Conference in London yesterday (March 3), Richard Wheeler spoke about his company's service, which was first announced in June 2009 with Universal Music on board but has yet to launch.

The original proposition was that consumers would sign up and be given unlimited MP3 downloads for a set fee each month. Beyond Universal, Virgin has so far been unable to strike licensing deals with the other three majors or the independents.

Wheeler talked about the licensing complications but said negotiations were in "a very positive place". He then explained that subscription services bundled in with Virgin's TV, mobile and broadband packages were a "key growth area" for the company in 2011 and 2012.

FT Tech Hub reports that, when asked when or if Virgin's music service finally launched, what form it would take, Wheeler said, "I don't think it necessarily needs to be [unlimited downloads]. Users' desire to cache tracks and listen to them on the go, that outdates the unlimited download model to a degree."

The unlimited model, outside of pure streaming, is proving difficult to sell through to consumers. Earlier this year, Nokia announced that it was closing is Ovi Music Unlimited (originally launched as Comes With Music) in 27 of the 33 markets it was live in.

Despite Virgin's efforts, Sky became the first UK ISP to launch a music service in the UK. Sky Songs, however, failed to take off and was pulled in February.

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