LONDON: Telcoms major BT Group Plc. has tied up with three content providers to propel its BT Television Services. The company, which has announced its plans to get into media in a bid way, said it is signing up BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of BBC, Warner Music and Paramount, the Viacom group’s film studio, for its soon-to-be launched on-demand service.
BT Television Services chief executive Dan Marks promised a number of similar announcements in the coming weeks and months, which will indicate the scale the proposed activities. He also said the company will sign up some of the major Hollywood studios, other broadcasters and “all major record labels” for the service. All the tie-ups will be revenue-sharing arrangements, he said.
He said the service will target millions of British homes that do not subscribe to pay-TV.
“Our view of the market is that everybody will have a digital TV and the question is how many will be using a subscription service. There are 78 million TV sets in the U.K., of which 11 million are connected to a pay-TV service, which leaves a lot of TV sets,” he said.
The service, to be launched next autumn, provides for customers to choose television, music and films to watch at their convenience. It also intends to offer a broadcast television service with 30 channels to be supplied via a Freeview box. Users can either purchase selected items to view or listen or buy a subscription for unlimited use. The company has not disclosed its pricing model.
The customers will also have to buy the set-top box, which will include an 80 Mb hard drive to save programmes and music. Most probably Philips will make the box, which will be attached to a BT telephone line to deliver the content. The box will have a digital terrestrial tuner to access Freeview programmes.
BT Group plans to take on pay television channels NTL and BSkyB in a big way.
The company said it expects BT Retail to continue with the last quarter’s return to profit growth and deliver an increased profit for the full year. It expects to have cost savings of 400-500 million pounds over three years by focusing on more cost effective use of online sales, service and billing as well as improved processes.
The company has decided to offer free calls throughout the festive holiday to any landline in 30 different countries. It is also reducing the rate of Broadband Talk, which allows customers to use a normal phone, rather than the PC, by up to 50 per cent to 2 pounds a month for evening and weekend calls or 7 pounds a month for anytime calls. Its evening and weekend call packages are completely free.
BT said it is evolving a concept of a broadband BT hub in homes which will enable wireless networking for all the family’s computer systems, next generation TV, voice calls over the internet and five different voice channels that can be used simultaneously. The hub will also enable monitoring services, such as security for the home as well as greater protection for data.
The company is also establishing a network of 8,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the country to offer opportunities to work and play. The recent tie-up with Nintendo to allow gamers to interact and play using a Wi-Fi link is an example.