This week has seen Sky seek to upset BT’s big Champions League unveiling by pointing to the competition’s declining viewing figures.
It did beg the question, however, whether BT had been wise to shell out the not inconsiderable £900 million it did in the circumstances.
“For BT’s overall strategy, TV is the sweetener for retaining and attracting customers to its core business – broadband,” explains Nick Thomas, Practice Leader for Digital Media at Ovum, speaking to IP&TV News on the topic yesterday. “This is the inverse of Sky’s strategy of giving away broadband to preserve its premium TV product.”
The danger for Sky, he adds, is that the conspicuously reasonable prices BT has unveiled – of £5 a month or free for BT TV customers – makes Sky’s £30 per month premium sports package look rather expensive.
“Sky’s comments on the declining viewing figures for CL sound like sour grapes,” he goes on. “If English clubs aren’t represented in the latter stages, viewing figures will fall, but on the contrary, if they get near the final, then BT will find itself hosting a major TV event. In that sense, they may be reliant on Jose Mourinho not just for their ad campaigns but for the success of their CL campaign too.”
Thomas additionally points out that, by offering so many gaps (as it were) in its Champions League paywall, BT could revive interest on its own. “It’s also worth noting that audiences for sports always shrink drastically when put behind a full paywall – as we have seen with the likes of boxing and cricket which since being on pay-TV only have seen audiences shrink in the UK from 10 million+ to the hundreds of thousands. BT’s decision to make CL football available to millions of BT broadband customers is an important counter to this trend.”