UK telecoms operator BT has announced deals with BBC Worldwide, Paramount and Warner Music Group for its forthcoming broadband television service.
“A partnership between the country’s leading communications company and three of the world’s leading entertainment groups is great news for consumers in the UK,” said Ian Livingston, the chief executive of BT Retail. “BT is defining next generation TV.”
“With video-on-demand rapidly shaping the future of television, we are very pleased to be part of BT’s TV service from the outset, providing subscribers with blue chip programmes and high-quality viewing,” said John Smith, the chief operating officer of the BBC and chief executive of its BBC Worldwide commercial division. Commercial terms and details of the range of programming to be included were not provided.
The agreement with Paramount, a Viacom company, will include video-on-demand access to their latest movie releases in the pay-per-view window as well as an extensive range of films from their archive.
Nick Philips, the chairman of Warner Music UK, said the agreement was part of their global strategy to become a multifaceted music content company. Warner Music previously entered into a partnership with France Telecom to allow consumers to download ringtones, full-length music tracks and music videos via its broadband, fixed and mobile networks.
The three deals announced represent a cross-section of the deals that BT will be signing, according to Dan Marks, the chief executive of BT TV services. “We have very big ambitions,” he said, but denied that the service would be a direct challenge to satellite and cable subscription services.
The as yet unnamed BT broadband television package will combine access to digital terrestrial television channels with video-on-demand and interactive services. Trials will begin in the spring and summer of 2006, with the service due to launch in the autumn. It will be available to BT broadband customers without an ongoing subscription fee.
The internet protocol television offering will use a set-top box from Philips, capable of providing high-definition services, including a personal video recorder capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming, and will be based on the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform.