In the week that BT and Sky both saw their triple play offerings potentially trumped by a possible NTL/Virgin ‘quadruple play’, BT chose to release details of its upcoming content deals with BBC Worldwide, Paramount and Warner Music Group.
Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT Retail, talked up the deals, “Whether you are a music fan, love films or hooked on drama you will get the best in entertainment when you want it. BT is defining next generation TV.”
Against a backdrop of whispered rumours of delays with Microsoft’s IPTV Edition, the BT service is slated for launch next year.
BT’s TV service will piggyback on-demand programming, delivered by a high speed Internet connection to a Philips terrestrial Freeview receiver, and the PVR component of the box will hold 80 hours of downloaded programming.
The service will not be a monthly subscription like that of NTL and Sky, instead it will follow a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, where individual downloads and viewing can be charged.
An agreement with BBC Worldwide that covers on-demand rights for BBC programming and charges for viewing, will provoke controversy as the BBC is paid for by a universal levy on TV viewers in the UK.
Problems won’t be confined to BBC programmes if ITV programming is carried, advertisers are bound to be unhappy that time-shifting viewers will skip the paid for messages.
You might be able to tell that we’re not that excited about this deal. At least BT seems to recognise that viewers watch content rather than technology … or well negotiated deals.
With so many digital TV homes in the UK subscribed to Sky or cable, we’re just not sure if BT will be able to muscle into the Digital TV space.
A major question mark hanging over them is whether the content promised so far is enough to encourage current subscribers to switch or, even more difficult, if they can get the so called “digital refuseniks” to join BT’s TV.