Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interview with BT's Dan Marks

I had an interview with Dan Marks, the CEO of BT Vision, BT's new IPTV service that was announced in December 2006. He stated that BT Vision is currently in a shake down phase and has 5,000 paying subscribers.

Dan stated that BT Vision is a response to the unique market conditions in the UK. About half of the homes use pay TV with the larger portion using satellite and the smaller using cable. The other half are quite resistant to pay TV and are adopting the Freeview digital torrential service a rapid rate.

There is no cost to the subscriber for the BT Vision service. BT will provide a Phillips set-top box for free. The subscriber can then use it to watch Freeview content at not cost, and, if they want, subscribe for BT subscription services or order paid on demand services. BT has pulled together a strong set of content for the service including films and the English soccer leagues.

Dan said that BT is on schedule for a Spring 2006 full market rollout. He did not give a precise date, but indicated that it would likely be later in Spring rather than earlier. He said that the Microsoft IPTV Edition software is ready to scale. He also agreed that in one sense BT's
implementation is simpler than others because it does not provide broadcast channels and need to support fast channel change. On the other hand, he pointed out that BT Vision had some important and difficult features that included DVR services on the set-top box that had to be worked out.

The BT strategy of offering the set-top box and access to Freeview for free should help it to penetrate the UK market quickly. In fact I am going to have to go back and look at my forecast again. BT offers some compelling services that include an integrated program guide, sports program, and the ability to access previously broadcast programs that users should find quite attractive. BT should do well with this offering.

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