BT Group Plc, the former UK telecoms incumbent, has signed its first content deals with a number of media providers, as part of its move to tap into the triple-play market, where fortunes can be made by pushing content via IP into the “digital home”.
The London, UK-based carrier announced that it had signed deals with BBC Worldwide, Paramount, and Warner Music Group to provide broadcast content. This should include television shows such as Dr Who or EastEnders, films such as Forrest Gump and It’s a Wonderful Life, and music from the likes of Madonna and David Gray.
The deals are part of BT’s strategy of pushing content including television over a broadband connection, commonly referred to as IPTV.
BT is actually beginning trials of the service in the spring, with a start slated for next Autumn. The service is as yet unnamed, but will allow BT customers to pick from (on a pay-per-view basis) a catalogue of films, music and television programming, as well as interactive and communications services, all via their television sets.
BT is the largest provider of fixed-line services in the UK. Customers who sign up to the service can expect to get a set-top box that incorporate a Freeview digital receiver, as well as a personal video recorder or PVR. Indeed, the PVR is increasingly being viewed as the modern day VCR, as it allows users to pause and rewind live television, and record up to 80 hours of programming.
The uptake of these machines could have adverse financial implications for commercial broadcasters such as ITV, as users often use the PVR to skip adverts, their main source of income. BT recently signed a deal with Philips to supply the set top box and an alliance with Microsoft, which will provide Microsoft TV IPTV Edition as the software platform.
It is envisaged that the set-top box will allow users to download video-on-demand or television programmes such as the complete series of Little Britain. The set-top box receives the content via a broadband connection, thought to be possible once speeds of 4MB/s plus are rolled out across the country next year.
In effect, BT is hoping to capitalise on the demand for home entertainment, and its solution gives householders the ability to pick and choose their viewing, without the monthly subscriptions for alternative services provided by the likes of UK satellite broadcaster, British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc and UK cable giant NTL Inc.
Our customers will be able to enjoy enhanced TV services and easy access to a wealth of interactive content and new services straight to their TV, said BT Retail CEO Ian Livingston in a statement. Whether you are a music fan, love films or hooked on drama you will get the best in entertainment when you want it.
Last month it emerged that Europe’s largest telecoms operator, Deutsche Telekom AG, was to bid for the pay TV rights to transmit matches from the Bundesliga, Germany’s top football league.