BT is hoping to boost take up of its TV service with a free package, new entry level set top box and ‘watch anywhere’ tablet and smartphone app.
Despite first launching a TV product in 2006, BT has only recently broken through the 1m subscriber mark, a milestone it was beaten to by rival ISP and fellow YouView shareholder, TalkTalk.
TalkTalk’s offering of a free basic YouView box and the bundling of popular Sky entertainment channels sees it regularly enjoy sign-up rates of up to 200,000 per quarter.
In contrast BT’s service, which includes its flagship BT Sport channels, grew by just 38,000 new subscribers in the most recent quarter.
Addressing analysts and investors, CEO Gavin Patterson last month admitted that the wider TV offering had been “de-prioritised” while the firm focused on the launch of the sports channels.
However he promised new features and content deals would help BT take a bigger share of the lucrative triple-play market where companies bundle home phone, broadband and TV on a single bill.
The first wave of the promised enhancements launch today with more expected in the coming months.
A new BT TV Starter package gives customers access to YouView’s free to air TV and radio channels plus catch-up players including iPlayer and 4oD in return for a one-off activation fee.
Customers taking the package will get BT’s new non-recording YouView box which can pause and rewind live TV.
They can augment the basic package with a range of ‘bolt-ons’ including a music on demand service, kids programmes and Sky Movies, plus rent films from BT’s pay per view movie service and Curzon Home Cinema.
Customers can also buy movies to keep forever, including recent cinema hits such as X Men: Days of Future Past, 22 Jump Street and Begin Again, direct from their set top box.
BT has also rejigged its multi-room package which now comes with a choice of set top box and, for the first time, a smartphone and tablet app offering mobile access to some of its pay-TV channels.
Channels available to watch on the move include BT Sport, Comedy Central and CI.
And, from today, all BT TV customers can add Netflix to their package and pay for the service on their home phone and broadband bill.
The service was added to YouView boxes last week and customers have the option of signing up direct, using an existing Netflix account on their box, or signing up through BT.
From today new customers can get BT Infinity, Netflix, BT TV and a free YouView box, for £5.99 a month (plus line rental) for six months, rising to £20.99 per month once the broadband element becomes changeable in month seven.
Delia Bushell, Managing Director of BT TV & BT Sport said: “Our new package will give customers even more unmissable content.
“Customers will be able to enjoy must-see Netflix shows and original series like Orange is the New Black and Marco Polo, free BT Sport with live Barclays Premier League, the latest movies to rent or own from BT Box Office, and more Freeview catch-up than Sky.
“We’re delighted to be offering our customers a wide range of must-see content at a great value price and with the convenience of a single bill.”
She added: “Following on from the announcement last week that BT will be allowed to carry Sky Sports 1 & 2 on its BT TV YouView boxes, there has never been a better time to take up BT’s fantastic new TV service.”
Last week a BT spokesperson said the firm would announce details of Sky Sports’ availability “very shortly.”