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BT faces ‘signficant headwinds’ in TV, says Patterson

BT CEO Gavin Patterson

BT CEO Gavin Patterson

BT faces “significant headwinds” in growing its TV base despite its strong showing last quarter, according to CEO Gavin Patterson.

Speaking to analysts after BT announced it had signed up an additional 97,000 TV customers in the quarter to December, Patterson said that the company had benefited from its acquisition of Champions League rights, which had given it two strong quarters of growth.

However, he said he was “very hesitant” to give forward projections based on this because of the “significant headwinds” the company faces in the shape of Sky, which has refused to wholesale its content to the telco. He said that “competing versus a dominant providers in the form of Sky” meant that growth was challenging, despite the fact that BT’s TV base is currently much lower than competitors such as Virgin Media. Patterson said that only about 15% of BT’s custoemrs take triple-play against around 90% for Virgin media.

Separately, BT is updating its TV app for Apple and Android devices, adding a dedicated kids’ on-demand section, seven more channels and an expanded collection of catch-up content.

The BT TV app’s new kids section will include programmes like Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Entertainment One’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and Doc McStuffins from Disney Junior.

The new live-streamed channels that being added are the recently rebranded Sony Channel and UKTV’s six channels – Alibi, Eden, Gold, Good Food, Home and Watch.

Meanwhile, the refreshed subscription catch-up service on the BT TV app offers shows from up to 20 premium entertainment channels, including AMC, History, MTV, Sony, Syfy and the new UKTV Play service.

BT said it intends to continue expanding this subscription catch up service by adding more content in the future.

The app, which was formerly known as BT TV Everywhere, will also let BT TV customers search for live streamed and catch-up content from the TV channels they subscribe to. It also continues to let them link directly to their YouView+ set-top box to set recordings when they are out of the home.

“The new BT TV app is much better all round – it is much easier to use and gives you great TV shows to enjoy when you’re out and about,” said Antonia Barton, general manager, BT TV product.

“The new kids’ section is great for children, as they can find their favourite shows within a dedicated section of the app. Plus there’s so much more content, whether you’re looking for something like Britain’s Next Top Model from Lifetime on Subscription Catch Up or you want to watch a classic comedy on UKTV’s Gold channel.”

All BT TV customers can download the BT TV app, but only customers subscribing to the Entertainment Plus, Entertainment Max, Total Entertainment packages, or customers taking the ‘Extra Box’ bolt-on, can watch their live and on-demand premium entertainment and kids’ content. Access to channels and on-demand content is dependent on customer subscription.