BT 'pleased with Sky Sports takeup'
Monday, August 16 2010, 09:56 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,
BT has said that it was "reasonably pleased" with the consumer takeup of its Sky Sports packages ahead of the new football season, despite a marketing blitz from Sky.
Speaking to the Financial Times, BT Retail chief executive Gavin Patterson claimed that BT Vision has signed up "tens of thousands of customers" to its Sky Sports services, after launching a cut price offering for Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 in July.
As the service was dogged by technical problems in its first week, Patterson said that BT is working on technical innovations going forward.
Patterson also wants to bring on more new content to help BT Vision become a genuine competitor to Virgin Media and Sky in the pay-TV market.
"We want to be able to have a TV business where we count the customers in the millions, not the hundreds of thousands, which is where we are at the moment. Our ambition and appetite [for TV] remains strong," he said.
According to Billetts Media Monitoring, Sky spent £3.6m on its marketing campaign for Sky Sports, which featured former footballer Eric Cantona and played on the availability of all five high-definition Sky Sports channels only on Sky.
The marketing outlay was four times that spent by BT, after the telecoms giant splashed out around £900,000 on advertising its Sky Sports packages between July 1 and August 3.
Patterson said that BT will invest around £30m over the next four months on marketing all of the services offered by BT Vision, with a focus on its competitive pricing compared to Sky.
However, he also expressed his surprise at the hefty marketing outlay by the satellite broadcaster, which suggests that "we've done something to worry them".
"The response from the marketplace is extreme. The investment they have put in to combat us is huge," said Patterson.
"A wander around London leaves you overwhelmed at the posters that carry the message."
BT has been able to offer the Sky Sports channels under a reduced wholesale pricing model introduced by media regulator Ofcom in March and brought into force in April as part of an interim deal with Sky.
Sky, BT and Virgin Media are all mounting challenges to Ofcom's pricing model at the Competitions Appeals Tribunal, with BT's long-term aim being to offer all five Sky Sports channels to its subscribers.
Patterson said: "It isn't a level playing field and we are challenging it to make sure we get access to all the content on an equivalent basis."