The head of BT’s consumer division says the firm is “considering our options” over its future involvement in the YouView connected set top box venture.
BT is one of seven equal shareholders in the YouView project, alongside the BBC, ITV, Five, Channel 4, transmission firm Arqiva and TalkTalk, which it uses to provide pay-TV services under both the BT and Plusnet brands.
The firm’s recently acquired EE mobile business also offers TV services but uses set top box software developed by Netgem.
When requesting shareholder approval for the EE deal, BT committed itself to eliminating duplicate costs from the combined businesses, and analysts and commentators have subsequently speculated that the three separate TV services could all be moved onto a single platform to help deliver on this promise.
With the majority of customers using the YouView platform, the least disruptive and most cost efficient move would be to drop the Netgem service and move EE TV onto YouView.
However news that EE has recently started selling BT branded TV and broadband services in 20 of its retail stores could even indicate that BT is considering dropping all non-mobile EE branded services in favour of leveraging its own brand.
At a press conference last week BT consumer boss John Petter was asked about rumours that the firm is mulling a takeover of the entire YouView business, a move which would make the dropping of EE’s Netgem STBs virtually inevitable.
Petter confirmed BT is committed to the project until 2019 as part of the extended funding deal it and the other shareholders struck in 2014 and added that it was “considering our options” about what comes next.
Describing both Netgem and YouView as “strong platforms,” he concluded by saying “the options are good” but failed to address the specific question of a YouView takeover.
Picture: Into the Badlands, a BT TV exclusive airing on AMC UK