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BT TV Connect service to carry live TV channels over WBC network
Tuesday 23 April 2013 10:20:42 by Andrew Ferguson

There is a new wholesale service in development that will allow a suite of live TV channels in SD and HD quality to be carried over the BT Wholesale network and multicast to a retail providers customers with the appropriate router and TV set top box in their home. The BT Wholesale TV Connect product may be the game changer that means that BT Retail which spent hundreds of millions on sports rights will see a return on the spend.

The key to the service is that the channels would be multicast across the WBC IP based network reducing the amount of IP traffic used, and with multicast available across the GEA FTTC and FTTP products even the local loop should have no problems.

The TV Connect product is available on a wholesale basis to all WBC based providers, but with BT Retail being the only provider of significant size we presume it will be utilised by them. TV Connect takes in the appropriate SMPTE TV standard and outputs SD at around 3 Mbps and HD at 10 Mbps, which matches the quality of Freeview and satellite TV and also includes support for encrypted channels, meaning pay per view events are feasible.

Later in 2013 the TV Connect service will expand to support lines that are still using WBC ADSL2+ services, but with a more limited channel selection and the increased possibility that a line may not be fast enough to reliably stream a channel.

The battle to remain the UK's largest retail broadband provider is clearly underway, but a recent Guardian blog has suggested that with some 2.5 million BT customers also subscribing to Sky TV, Sky might be able to encourage them away to their LLU network and the magic number needed to push Sky into the number one position is another 2 million broadband subscribers (Market share of the largest broadband providers).

While in the past broadband competition has seen prices pushed into the basement sale area, if the battleground becomes content that is only reliably available over a super fast broadband connection we might actually see a rise in demand for super fast services.

Update 12:15: The pricing of the TV Connect service takes effect from 1st May 2013, and each channel carries a one-off £80,000 activation fee, and the cost per Mbps (Megabit per second) every month is £6,667. This means a 3 Mbps SD channel would cost £20,000 a month to broadcast over the network, rising to £67,000 for a HD channel. How this translates into a cost per subscriber really depends on how many subscribers a channel attracts.


Posted by ferretuk over 4 years ago
And the $64M question - How much?
Posted by Horizon911 over 4 years ago
@ferretuk: Indeed!

I also want to know whether I can ditch the aerial and VM cable tv service and get a full cable tv service from BT instead.
Posted by ferretuk over 4 years ago
The BT Wholesale page refers to a connection fee and then usage charging - Be interesting to see how that translates to a package price as a retail offering...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
I have found the pricing, adding to article.
Posted by ferretuk over 4 years ago
Ah - So the pricing is for the broadcaster for carriage. As the service is ISP independent, who will market the 'service' and put together retail packages I wonder?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Who said anything about ISP independent? I am expecting the ISP to actually be the broadcaster.

Basically BT YouView will be able to add channels that are unique to their platform and broadcast live.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
Excellent it's not like we don't already have far too many channels available for anyone that wants them.

Oh, wait..
Posted by Al1264 over 4 years ago
I only have too many channels because I'm paying a particular satellite broadcaster for the privilege, I'd sooner have a similar selection of channels (or fewer but decent ones) from my ISP.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
> from my ISP

And what difference are you expecting that to make? It'll cost about the same either way. Just because they come over the internet won't suddenly make them free. I'm not sure what the costs are currently to be listed on Sky's EPG and to grab space on a transponder but I don't think it's as costly as suggested here.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
It'll be interesting to see how it develops but 'pick and mix' channel packaging has been tried before and has flopped at least twice. The trouble is you have to create bundles in order to make anything viable. It's a bit like walking home from the pub - two people support each other better than one person on their own :)
Posted by daveh75 over 4 years ago
Being significantly cheaper than broadcasting by terrestrial/sat/cable I can see this being very attractive to broadcasters.

But will also open the floodgates to low rent community/showcase, shopping, travel and 'adult chatline' type channels
Posted by daveh75 over 4 years ago
@AndrueC the basic cost of inclusion on Sky EPG alone is £62,000 pa, but then there are lots of other cost depending the type of channel/service, what bouquet they're listed in, encryption charges etc etc

The cost of leasing transponder space isn't publically available but is believed to run into the hundreds of thousands.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
I found some info from last year, when BBC was cutting back, and they pay Sky £10 million a year for EPG etc

The raft of regional channels not helping of course.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago

That's 2010. My head hurts trying to understand it but this sticks out right at the front:

"Television Channels: £21,000 per listing per annum"
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
At first glance looks a lot cheaper than BT's offer but it depends on the platform contribution charge which looking at it is based on popularity.

I think that means Discovery were paying £650k pa in 2010 or £54k pcm.

Maybe :)
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
*meant to write 'looks a bit cheaper' but you're right that doesn't include transponder costs. Then again considering how much dross is being broadcast I'd guess those are low. Get a PC based card and it's shocking how many TV channels are being beamed at us. Sky lists probably less than a third of what's out there.
Posted by TheGuv over 4 years ago
This is dark horse "game changer" in the TV battle IMO.

Wholesaling allows BT to recoup investment by working with other ISPs and expands it's footprint by picking up those who don't want to goto BT.

The 2nd aspect of the gamechanger is that capacity is going to be significantly cheaper to obtain than through the Sky model in the long term IMO.
Posted by Horizon911 over 4 years ago
@TheGuv, I agree I think it could be a game changer as well.

There were a lot of us who argued in the past that money should not have been spent on a digital terrestrial network, but a fibre optic cable network instead. Well, by hook or crook, we are getting there slowly.
Posted by weegiegeek over 4 years ago
This could be very interesting, especially if the low cost per channel makes it feasible to create totally custom TV packages.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
weegiegeek , indeed and even better if you can change your selection whenever you want
Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
interesting guardian article, I sort of agree and I cant see BT making a profit on thsoe sports rights, which begs the question if the billion GBP was allocated to FTTP rollout how much would it have helped. The sports rights look like a loss leader to gain broadband customers.
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