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Broadcast has ‘changed BT’s DNA’, says TV chief

Alex Green

Alex Green

BT’s launch of broadcasting has “changed the DNA of the company”, while the UK telco’s new fibre network will change the nature of its TV service, according to Alex Green, director, TV at the operator.

Taking part in a fireside chat Q&A at TV Connect yesterday, Green said that BT is still less than two years old as a broadcaster, but had achieved solid operational results and more than doubled its stock price over the period since it first won English Premier League rights, fully vindicating its decision to invest in content.

Green said that BT had made the correct decision to invest significant sums in acquiring English Premier League rights, and in taking that forward by  securing exclusive rights to UEFA Champions League football. He said that, for operators, investing in sports rights means that “you know what you are getting”, while investing in other forms content such as movies and original series is a much more difficult play to get right and, therefore, ultimately carries greater risk.

Green said that BT was opening its platform out to third party content providers, for example by adding Netflix, and said that BT’s delivery of a single point of navigation for content was something that was “tremendously powerful” for consumers.

He said the YouView platform delivers useful functionality such as enabling consumers to search content by actors, director or show name and by providing a service that is “very powerful for the consumer, allowing them to discover and explore content”.

Green said one of the changes that has benefited pay TV platforms, including BT, is that they can now take content from source, for example streaming content via the ITV Player rather than ingesting that content itself. “That is a key part of allowing almost infinite choice,” he said.

Asked about the functionality provided by the TV offering of EE, which BT is in the process of acquiring, Green said the service was “interesting” but that crucially it didn’t have any paid content. BT Sport, although offered for free by BT to its broadband customers, was conditional-access protected and premium content and this is what drives uptake, he said.