This year will mark a “massive year of transformation” for BT, as it uses fibre broadband to deliver linear TV and launches its own sports channels, according to Alex Green, director of TV for BT Retail.
Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum seminar in London today, Green said that there were three big things driving the UK telco’s TV strategy: the extension of BT’s fibre network throughout the country; its forthcoming suite of sports channels; and YouView, the next generation TV platform that BT is supporting.
BT has committed to extend its fibre network to cover two thirds of UK households by next spring, which Green said “opens up a whole new world of TV for BT consumers.”
“We are using fibre now to deliver pay linear channels really for the first time in BT’s history. We are now moving in to a much more holistic offering of linear and on-demand,” he said.
In terms of BT’s sports channels, which are due to launch this summer, BT has already taken rights to a host of sports content – including 38 Premier League football games, 18 of which will be first-pick matches.
Asked whether these channels would include interactive elements, he said “the simple answer is yes you will and it will evolve over time as well,” without giving further details. “In terms of the specifics around apps and interactivity and so on, you’ll have to wait just a little more time to hear about that,” he said.
Throwing his support behind YouView, he commented this would be “our strategic platform for the future,” adding that “it makes our customers stickier, it makes them more engaged with us and our content services and our sales people love to sell it as well.”
“BT’s been in TV for about six or seven years. It’s still a relatively young player, it’s still a relatively small player – we have about three quarters of a million subscribers. But in some ways BT was ahead of its time in selling a TV service based purely on on-demand – that was the package that BT Vision sold, and has sold successfully,” said Green.
“On-demand only is a difficult thing for a lot of consumers to understand, but I think that is changing more quickly now, with Netflix, LoveFilm and other services. The reality though is that this is a year of massive transformation for BT and television, and I think the pay TV industry as a whole.”