There seemed to be something symbolic about MD of BT TV and BT Sport Delia Bushell’s keynote at IBC in Amsterdam on Sunday.
It wasn’t merely that it approximately marked the two year mark in the telco’s audacious and largely successful strategy to rival Sky as a leading UK sports broadcaster – the keynote also took place just a couple of days prior to the launch of BT’s much hyped (and quite rightly so!) UEFA Champion’s League coverage, with a star studded team including Gary Lineker, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand among others.
That particular coup clearly got up Sky’s nose – and as well it might, not least because the deal will surely win BT many new broadband customers. As Bushell commented at IBC, all of its sports acquisitions have been made “to drive sustainable top and bottom line growth for our BT Consumer vision.”
Bushell also conceded that, when the plans and aspirations for BT Sport were first revealed, many observers concluded that the venerable telco – widely viewed as “a lumbering telco dinosaur” at the time, she conceded – had “lost its mind.”
Two years and 5.2 million subscribers later, however, and sceptics are few and far between. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would begrudge the strategy the name ‘success’.
What was most interesting about the keynote, however, was Bushell’s emphasis on the “next chapter” for the telco, which you might characterise as the “telco turned broadcaster” turning into a true telco/broadcaster hybrid, or something – with both sides of its consumer strategy becoming complimentary to one another.
“What’s the next chapter?” Bushell asked aloud. “It’s all about convergence. It’s all about bringing together our BT Infinity Fibre network, our BT Sport and our BT TV operations, and also our BT Mobile services – and if our Everything Everywhere acquisition deal closes, bringing that new business together into the BT family.”
The plans for BT Fibre are at the heart of this, she explained.
“When we first launched BT Sport a couple of years ago, we stated that BT Fibre was going to be at the heart of some of the strategy, and certainly for BT TV, a key plank for us now is what I would call unlocking the power of fibre IPTV. Fibre coverage will reach about 95% of the country over the next couple of years, and that will be very key as to how we unlock the BT services.”
Well, this year’s Broadband World Forum, where BT is the ‘host service provider partner,’ is a perfect place to find out much more about this unified strategy. Among the special speakers from BT is Bill Murphy (BT’s MD for Next Generation Access), who will be discussing BT’s work in Cornwall, where it’s turned one of the most beautiful places in the world into one of the best connected.
Here’s an exclusive video teaser on what he’ll be telling delegates.