BT Vision chief defends subscriber levels

BT Vision chief executive Dan Marks has defended subscriber numbers at the two-year old IPTV service.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Marks says criticism of BT Vision’s 350,000 subscriber base is unjustified, but says he does not know of any way to reach half a million subscribers without first going through the 350,000 mark first. “We’ve had extremely rapid growth compared to other platforms, look at the early days of cable or Sky,” he says, citing figures that it took Sky two years to sign up its first 300,000 customers.

The interview reveals that, as football fans, both Marks and his boss Gavin Patterson, the head of BT Retail, are Sky subscribers. BT Vision offers its subscribers delayed on demand coverage of Saturday afternoon fixtures, but is lacking the linear Sky Sports, which holds the rights to four out of the six available Premier League packages. Despite his personal tastes, Marks is adamant that there is more to pay-TV than just football.

Last month BT received a boost from the launch of Project Canvas, in partnership with the BBC and ITV, which will offer UK homes access to a free-to-view on demand service over IPTV. “We are converging TV and the internet – they will be the same thing,” Marks tells the Telegraph. “Trying to stop it would be like trying to stop rain.”