BT’s 4K plans means Sky will ‘lose innovation lead’, says analyst

BT Sport's Champions League presenter team

BT Sport’s Champions League presenter team

BT’s launch an Ultra High Definition (UHD) sports channel in the UK this August means “Sky is set to lose the TV innovation lead to BT for the first time in over 20 years,” according to Strategy Analytics analyst David Watkins. 

Commenting on BT’s UHD service plans, Watkins, who is Strategy Analytics’ director of connected home devices, said that the operator will be “hopeful of stealing a march on Sky and Virgin.”

“It [BT] has already become a serious threat to Sky’s dominance by spending vast amounts to secure premium sports broadcast rights. Being first to market with a UHD sports channel may just tempt a few more customers from BT’s rivals to jump ship,” said Watkins.

However, he cautioned that “the bandwidth hungry nature of UHD content will mean that BT will be restricted in offering its service to its fibre customers only,” and said that the deployment of new, 4K-capable set-top boxes could “slow the rate of uptake of the service.”

According to Strategy Analytics stats, around 850,000 homes will own a UHD TV by the end of 2015 – 3% of all TV households – climbing to 8% by the end of 2016 and over 40% by 2020. In the UK, pay TV subscriptions reached 17.4 million at the end of 2014 with Sky and Virgin Media accounting for 81% of market share.