Advanced Television

BT Vision won't reach 3m in 2010

October 13, 2009

Mark Watson, CEO of BT Vision, has told the FT it the platfrom will fail to hit a target set by Ian Livingston, the BT Group chief executive, to have 2-3m customers by December 2010. "We won't hit 2-3m customers over that time," he says.

He blames the failure to hit the target partly on the absence of Sky's premium sports content on BT Vision. Ofcom has recommended the wholesale price of these channels to platforms like BT Vision should be regulated – a move Sky is vehemently opposing.

But Watson does admit the platform's growth has also been stunted by shortcomings at BT.

"We have not yet found the best way of explaining what the benefits are to consumers, and what BT Vision stands for," he says. He also suggests BT has found it a challenge to transform itself from a telecoms company to a retailer of entertainment.

At the start of next year, BT is expected to start a marketing offensive that puts BT Vision at the heart of a "triple play" consumer deal involving phone, broadband and TV. BT was unable to market such triple play bundles at a discounted price until last month, when Ofcom, thetelecoms watchdog, lifted restrictions in place since its privatisation. BT Vision customers must also be BT broadband subscribers, and the company's opportunity to cross sell the TV service is significant. BT has 4.8m broadband customers.

Watson also identifies Project Canvas as another major boost, putting video on demand content such as the BBC iPlayer onto TVs by plugging into fixed-line broadband connections. He confirmed BT would be subsidising the cost of set top boxes.

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