BT struggles to gain new Premier League viewers

James Thompson
Monday 16 August 2010 00:00
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BT has failed to score in its initial battle to attract Premier League football TV viewers and become a serious rival to BSkyB, despite a huge £30m advertising campaign.

A City analyst said that the telecoms company is on track to only sign up 60,000 new subscribers to its BT Vision service, which requires customers to use its broadband internet services and TV offer.

While it already had 481,000 existing subscribers to its BT Vision service before launching its offer, the low number of additional customers will raise eyebrows in the industry. BSkyB has 9.8 million subscribers.

BT launched a £30m TV advertising campaign last month which featured high-profile footballers: Manchester City's Shay Given, Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Manchester United's Wes Brown and Michael Owen.

In a Sunday newspaper article, Will Draper, the analyst at Execution Noble, forecast that BT will have signed up just 60,000 new subscribers by the end of September.

He reportedly said: "This is a very small number compared with what BT wanted. BSkyB has marketed very aggressively against it, highlighting the number of sports channels Sky can offer compared with BT. Also, BT's prices sounded good value at £6.99 for Sky Sports 1 or 2, but when customers realised they had to have a two-year contract, BT broadband and pay line rental, they realised it was not so competitive."

The telecoms company charges £36.52 a month for Sky Sports 1 or 2 on BT Vision. This compares with £27 on Sky and £30.99 on Virgin Media.

BT unveiled its plans in June to bring Premier League football to its customers after signing a wholesale deal with BSkyB for Sky Sports 1 and 2. Its announcement came three months after Ofcom, the media watchdog, demanded that Sky slash the prices it charged rivals to show premium sport. BSkyB plans to appeal against the ruling.

Ofcom ruled in March that Sky would have to cut its wholesale prices following lobbying from BT, Virgin Media, Top Up TV and Setanta Sports.

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