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Blurred Vision

Ray Le Maistre
8/31/2007

1:00 PM -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), which has just cut its triple-play service package prices by 25 percent, isn't the only European incumbent with ambitious IPTV growth plans, we've found out today. (See DT Cuts Its IPTV Price.)

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) aims to have 100,000 customers for its IPTV service, called BT Vision, by the end of this year, quite a step up from the 20,000 it had at the end of June. (See BT Talks Google, IPTV & Collaboration.)

That leap is possible with the right promotion and content, though. Since the end of its first quarter, BT has stepped up its Vision marketing campaign with particular emphasis on its soccer coverage.

While BT's messaging has been quite clear, the impact it's had on service uptake numbers is less so.

According to media industry Website Brand Republic, BT added a further 24,000 Vision customers during July and August, with its English Premiership soccer coverage cited as the leading attraction. (See BT Pushes Soccer Service.)

BT says it's aware of the "speculation" about that figure, but won't confirm that level of growth. It does say, though, that it's aiming to hit 40,000 BT Vision subscribers by the end of September and then ramp up to 100,000 by the end of the year.

BT isn't the only British player pinning its hopes on Premiership coverage, though, as rivals Sky and Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) are also heavily promoting their own soccer packages, with Virgin Media due to launch a sports news channel to supplement its game coverage. (See Virgin Media Gets Sporty and Sky Falls on Virgin's Head.)

If BT is successful, it won't just be its IPTV subs base that will grow. The carrier is still pretty new to the video delivery game, and a ramp in users will undoubtedly come with service delivery issues, such as the set-top box issues faced by this early adopter, the video download problems listed here, and customer complaints. And with every man, woman, and child having their own blog these days, any dissatisfaction with the service is likely to be aired quite publicly.

— Ray Le Maistre, Soccer Coverage Editor, Light Reading

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