BT: “BARB should measure online audiences”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Newcastle United - Old TraffordThe BT Sport App is proving a hit with customers, says Marc Watson, CEO of BT TV. Watson, making a keynote speech at the Royal Television Society, said that huge numbers of BT customers had downloaded the App and that the million milestone was due to be passed in the next month.

Watson explained that customers who watch via the App – rather than via their TVs – are not currently captured by BARB and said it would be useful if such viewers could be included in the future. He said the trend for people to watch online – whether via a PC, Mac or a mobile device – was growing and that broadband would increasingly be an important platform for television.  He added that BT is investing billions of pounds in fibre broadband saying that fibre would offer fantastic interactivity over TVs in the future, making it a richer watching experience than satellite or other TV platforms.

Three million households are currently equipped to watch the BT Sport channels on their TVs – either via satellite, BT TV or Virgin Media – and whilst many of them, who have BT Broadband, have also downloaded the App, there are hundreds of thousands of homes that have chosen to watch BT Sport exclusively online.

Watson said: “Television is changing thanks to broadband and that transformation is only going to get more dramatic as customers move to much faster fibre. It is clear that many customers are now watching online rather than via their TV sets and we hope that BARB will soon find a way to capture this important audience.”

Watson also used the speech to remind his audience that whilst the media had often portrayed the launch of BT Sport as a battle between BT and BSkyB, that was not how the company itself viewed it.

He said there was plenty of room in the TV market for both companies and that BT had gone out of its way to make it easy for Sky Sports customers to take BT Sport. He said the real battle from BT’s perspective was for broadband customers.

“The channels are there first and foremost to entice new customers to take our broadband and to encourage existing customers to stay with BT. Some people think we are trying to win TV customers off Sky but the truth is far more nuanced. There is lots of room for both Sky and BT in the TV space but we are rubbing elbows in the broadband market.”

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