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Video services

BT's TV Vision Grows

2:45 PM -- It's been a busy day for BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and its staff. (See BT Adds to Headcount Cull.)

But while the headlines focus on BT's slimming regime, EuroBlog delved into the British incumbent's second-quarter details to find out how its TV and video-on-demand (VOD) service, BT Vision, is faring.

At the end of September, according to BT, it had 340,000 of its 4.6 million DSL subscribers signed up to the Vision service, which delivers real-time, linear TV programming over the air to the set-top box and VOD/stored TV content over broadband.

That's a hybrid delivery method that places less stress on the broadband connection -- no multicasting, only unicasting -- but also counts it out of our definition of what "proper" IPTV entails. (See Top Ten: IPTV Carriers.)

BT's latest figure shows that the rate of uptake has actually slowed quarter on quarter. In the three months to the end of June, BT Vision added 50,000 new customers to reach a 300,000 total. Now, in the three months to the end of September, BT's fiscal second quarter, Vision has added only 40,000 new customers.

The operator might not be too concerned at that slowdown, though, because it looks like those new customers will deliver better, and more immediate, revenue returns than those who were signing up for the service a year ago. That's because BT noted today that, of the 40,000 new customers added in the second quarter, 83 percent "chose to take a subscription pack, nearly three times as many as last year."

That's significant because BT Vision customers can sign up for the service but then only watch the linear TV services that don't command any ongoing fees, while the subscription packs bundle in additional content services (sports, movies, music) for a monthly charge, starting at £14 ($20.56).

And if we remember correctly, the whole point of carriers such as BT launching these services is to drive new income that will, at least to some extent, make up for the shrinking revenues from traditional voice services.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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