Among a host of announcements made by BT on Wednesday was the arrival of Amazon’s Prime Video service on the ISP’s TV platform.
Combined with the already present Netflix and BT’s previously announced deal with Sky to add Now TV, the news means the firm will soon be offering all of the UK’s most popular subscription video on demand (SVOD) services.
Andrew Haworth, BT’s managing director for Strategy and Content and a key figure in the ISP’s TV product, says the addition of such services was a win both for consumers and providers.
“Our plan is to give customers choice,” the executive told SEENIT. “The SVOD providers have been growing at a phenomenal rate. We see that on our network, they’re delivering 60% at peak of our traffic. They’re a huge part of what our consumers are doing.”
With shareholders now used to the rewards of that growth, SVOD brands need to keep up momentum and that means making it ever easier for new users to find and enjoy their content.
“One of the things they’ve recognised is that companies like BT can help take their products and services to the mainstream,” said Haworth.
While “early adopters were quite happy to hunt around to find the device [and] switch inputs,” SVOD providers need partners who can help deliver the “single integrated experience” that the “next group of customers” are asking for.
The universal search function – which can find matching content across all catch-up and on demand players – on the YouView boxes BT provides as part of its TV service offers just such a solution.
But while BT is making much of its openness to strike content partnerships, Haworth says original content remains a core part of its broadband push, and that includes its sports channels which have been credited with denting the appeal of cheaper challenger brands and bolstering BT’s own offering.
“Sport is unique, sport remains a local service predominantly. People who watch football want to watch football presented in a very British way. If you watch football in other countries, you get a very different presentation.
“Being able to control that, from the cameras and the production, right through to the delivery, just gives us a great opportunity to showcase our network with the likes of Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos, even 360 video on your mobile.”
Haworth also confirmed that the recently extended tie-up with Frank Warren meant an end to the simulcasts of BT Sport Fight Night on the Boxnation channel.
While the dedicated boxing channel would continue to have its own exclusive fights, “all the stuff on BT Sport boxing will become exclusive to BT Sport.”
“So if you want to watch the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Carl Frampton, Tyson Fury, you need to subscribe to BT Sport.”
In addition to sport, BT has had some success with its foray into first-run dramas through its exclusive tie-up with US cable channel AMC.
The deal has already made BT TV the UK launch platform for Fear The Walking Dead, Rupert Grint’s crime drama Snatch, the Ridley Scott naval drama The Terror, and Pierce Brosnan’s The Son.
“The pipeline that we have with AMC only gets better,” said Haworth and, while he couldn’t reveal specifics, implied the “longterm” partnership with the channel still has a considerable period left to run.
“We’re very happy, it’s a partnership which continues to get better and stronger as it grows.”