BT says it will transform its BT TV service in the United Kingdom over the coming months, introducing a new, “faster and slicker” image-rich user experience with easy access to channels and on demand programming, together with a new BT TV app. BT currently shares the YouView platform with TalkTalk but has pulled ahead in television customer numbers. They have just over three million between them.
The next-generation BT TV service will enable customers to manage their recordings and stream live and on-demand programmes on mobile devices, providing a seamless TV experience in and out of the home.
BT Sport will offer Dolby Atmos sound to its BT Sport Ultra HD customers for selected events from January. It is expected to be the first broadcaster in the United Kingdom to offer the immersive sound format.
The new YouView interface will be downloaded to set-top boxes during early 2017. The new BT TV App is slated to launch in the summer of 2017.
Delia Bushell is the managing director of BT TV and BT Sport. “We will keep driving the pace of innovation in content, broadcasting and our customers’ experience,” she said. “In 2017 we’re going to further shake up the market by releasing our new viewing experience across our TV guide and on demand, our new TV app and on our BT Sport channels, provided as a free upgrade for our customers.”
BT has made a substantial investment in sport in an effort to differentiate its television offering, although its BT Sport channels are also available on rival pay-television services.
In its latest results, BT said: “we are benefiting from our new Saturday early evening slot for Premier League matches, with better viewing figures than last year”. Average audiences for BT sport are up just 1%. Its Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool on Saturday 29 October scored just 847,000 viewers, according to BARB data. Its second highest audience that week was under 200,000 viewers.
We can only speculate how many of those will be equipped with Ultra HD screens, not to mention Dolby Atmos sound systems.
The real win is to improve the appreciation of television generally, through features, functions and flexibility.
BT added 63,000 television customers in the three months to the end of September 2016, taking its base to 1.68 million. That is up from just over a million two years previously.
That was boosted by the acquisition of mobile company EE in a deal valued at £12.5 billion. That included the EE TV operation, which apparently achieved fewer than 100,000 customers since its launch in October 2014.
Nevertheless, BT TV overtook TalkTalk in terms of television customer numbers. Its rival in the YouView consortium had grown rapidly to 1.44 million homes but subsequently declined slightly.
TalkTalk now also offers BT Sport channels through its service. It is also planning to update its interface, based on the same YouView platform.
Aleks Habdank, the managing director, of TalkTalk TV, recently described the ambition to be the best value for money television provider in the United Kingdom as “firmly on track”.
“Our investment in YouView, our app-based service, and securing some to the best content available is incredibly valued by our customers,” he said. “TV continues to be a driving force for growth and customer loyalty and remains a priority for our business.”