BT Vision gained 94,000 customers in the first quarter of 2008, reaching a total of 214,000. BT is still some way off its target of two to three million homes by the end of 2011. Pace has announced a contract with BT to deliver a new V-box with a more powerful processor for more advanced interactive applications. It follows a previous contract with the set-top box division of Royal Philips Electronics, which was recently acquired by Pace.

BT said that the roll out of its next-generation television service accelerated during the first quarter of 2008, with 94,000 net additions. It will have to accelerate further to track its stated target of 2-3 million by the end of 2011. At the current rate of growth it would reach around 1.6 million.

The company says the “subscription attachment rate at point of sale averaged 68%”. BT Vision is billed as a service with no annual contract. However, it offers a number of add-on packages, notably including Setanta Sports, which is available from £4 a month.

The average number of views across all subscribers averaged 29 views per subscriber per month, which is not insignificant. Unlike other pay television operators, BT Vision does not provide numbers for average revenue per user.

Pace will supply advanced second-generation hybrid personal video recorders for the BT Vision service. The V-box uses Microsoft Mediaroom middleware and conditional access from Nagravision.

“The hybrid model of providing the latest interactive services, alongside digital terrestrial programming, is a very compelling one,” said Neil Gaydon, the chief executive of Pace.

Dan Marks, the chief executive of BT Vision reiterated guidance on customer targets, saying. “Our medium-term goal is to secure two to three million subscribers for our BT Vision service and we are looking forward to making this vision a reality in co-operation with Pace.”

In the first three months of 2008, Freeview gained an estimated 673,000 homes, which includes the 94,000 for BT Vision. That puts the BT Vision share of Freeview net additions at around 14%.

In the same period, Virgin Media cable numbers gained 75,000 and BSkyB satellite rose by 32,000. The number of free-to-view satellite homes rose by 70,000. That is before the launch of Freesat, which informitv expects to have a slow start as a result of limited supplies of set-top boxes, but has the potential for significant growth.

The interesting question is why BT Vision could not offer a Freesat compatible version which would plug into existing satellite television dishes, giving access to high-definition channels and offer coverage in those areas that are unable to receive digital terrestrial television through an aerial.