BT Retail chief executive Gavin Patterson has said the telco’s IPTV platform will use the wholesaling of Sky’s premium channels to reduce the cost of viewing pay-TV sports. Such a move would mean the BT network carrying linear channels for the first time.
BT would need to narrowcast a linear channel to the edge of its network and from there multicast it to the subscriber. Such a move would add both additional costs and pressure to the network.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Patterson says BT is prepared to price Sky Sports “somewhere in the mid-teens”. This is based on a wholesale price of between £14.55 and £18.55 a month, compared with £20.72 at present. Sky currently charges customers £37 for its Sports Pack of four premium sports channels, a bundle that also includes access to Sky’s basic channels. Alternatively viewers can opt for just one Sky Sports channel and a single entertainment pack for a monthly £27.
BT would at the very least be charging its customers for a phone line and broadband connection, suggesting that the idea of a ‘price war’ mooted by some sections of the national press is wide of the mark.
Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett has in the past stated that the cablenet loses money on each Sky premium package that it sells.
A spokesman for BT told Broadband TV News that the possibility of carrying linear channels was being studied. There is no news as to whether this would include other channels.
At present BT Vision relies on the DTT network to deliver linear channels including BBC One, BBC News Channel, ITV1, Channel 4, E4 etc. It also offers ESPN, but this is also available over the terrestrial system. The BT network is used only for on demand content.
BT, along with Setanta Sports, Top Up TV and Virgin Media, filed the original complaint that lead to the Ofcom pay-TV review that began in March 2007. It is expected to report in April.