BT is targeting between 2m and 3m customers for its long awaited digital terrestrial and on-demand television service, BT Vision. "Television is no longer in the hands of the schedulers and the TV channels," said BT Retail CEO Ian Livingston as he launched the service in a packed auditorium at BT's London HQ. "We are passing you the control."
BT Vision combines Freeview's 40 digital terrestrial channels with thousands of hours of on-demand content, delivered via broadband. The set-top box, known as the 'V-box', contains a digital TV recorder able to store up to 80 hours of programming. BT is giving away the V-box, which is also HD-Ready and worth £199, to BT Broadband customers. A BT engineer will install the V-box for £60 and there is a £30 connection charge. BT Broadband is being offered at £9.95 for the first six months, and is then charged at £17.99, including free evening and weekend voice calls.
BT's library of on-demand programming can be purchased on a pay-per-view or unlimited monthly subscription basis, with no minimum monthly period. Movies cost between £1.99 and £2.99; individual music videos cost 29p while premium concerts cost £2.99; kids programmes cost 49p. BT's catch-up TV service, called TV Replay, offering broadcast TV programmes they may have missed in the previous week (Channel 4 is the first partner, the BBC and ITV are set to follow), offers programmes charged at 99p to £1.49. Unlimited subscription packs for kids and music cost £6 per month each while TV Replay costs £3. An all-you-can-eat pack costs £14 per month.
BT announced two further content deals in addition to a raft of agreements signed already this year:
BT also announced that Vodafone would offer a version of BT Vision to customers of its Vodafone at Home service. BT's Microsoft-powered service will offer additional interactive services in 2007, such as voting, gaming, gambling and communications, enabling customers to chat with each other or use video telephony to talk face to face while watching programmes. BT is also working on a user-generated content platform so customers can share their videos, photographs and music with a wider audience.
Dan Marks, chief executive of BT Vision, said first customers would be installed in mid-December. "We believe we are doing something important here. This is a new kind of entertainment for the 21st Century. This is not simply a new product launch. BT Vision will make a real difference."
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