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UPDATE EE Add FREE TV Service to its UK Home Broadband and Mobile

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 (7:47 am) - Score 2,322

Mobile operator and ISP EE (Everything Everywhere) will today go head-to-head with BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband (BSkyB) and Virgin Media when they become the latest telecoms giant to introduce their own TV (IPTV) product, with the related Set-Top-Box (STB) being offered for free to their 775,000 existing Home Broadband customers.

The operator, under its former name of ‘Orange’, has previously examined the potential in launching their own TV product (once in 2008, then in 2009 and again in 2010), but nothing ever came of it and soon after the provider began to bleed subscribers as their home broadband service and support quality fell away.

Since then their broadband products have been slowly rejuvenated under EE’s branding. But the operator has also seen many of its rivals (except O2, Vodafone and Three UK) launch TV services via either their own platform or one based off the YouView mould. EE are known to have considered YouView themselves, although reports indicate that today’s launch will make use of a different platform.

Never the less EE’s kit will offer many of the same Freeview channels and catch-up TV features as YouView, although customers will probably need to re-subscribe via a new contract in order to get the “free” set-top-box. Meanwhile mobile-only subscribers can also take the service, although they’ll need to pay £9.95 per month for the privilege.

Unfortunately the STB will not include access to BT’s Sport TV service or Sky’s NOW TV, which is not surprising given that they are directly competitive. Never the less EE will still need to offer their own premium catch-up and live TV options if they’re to attract customers away from their rivals.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said:

Today we’re announcing the most advanced TV service the UK has ever seen. How, where and when people watch TV and movies is changing, and mobile technology is driving that change.

As the UK’s biggest and fastest network, with more than 25 million customers, we have unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits. It’s helped us create a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before.

With EE TV, not only can you watch different streams of live and recorded content, on multiple screens simultaneously, but your mobile becomes the remote. This gives each viewer the chance to watch, queue and view what they want, when they want. It’s a completely new way to enjoy your favourite programmes, films and internet content.”

Crucially EE, which is now effectively about to become a quad-play provider, will in some way be stealing a march on both Sky Broadband and BT with their launch because neither has yet been able to introduce their own mobile service (i.e. Sky and BT remain triple-play). The question will be whether or not there’s room in the market for another TV provider, not least with much of the existing interest having already been scooped up.

In other words it looks as if EE’s approach is much like the one that TalkTalk decided to take, which was to use TV as a means of reducing churn and thus holding on to their existing subscribers. But such a move proved to be a costly risk for TalkTalk, albeit one that seems to be working thanks partly to their early start, and EE will be taking the same gamble, albeit entering somewhat later into the game.

We will post more details after this morning’s official announcement.

UPDATE 10:45am

The official press release is now circulated and appears to support what we’ve said above. It also includes this new TV advert summary of the product, which naturally features Kevin Bacon.

The PR itself notes that Internet video content today makes up more than 50% of EE’s 4G mobile network activity. Meanwhile the new TV service will allow viewers to watch their favourite programmes on their home TV, as well as on up to three smartphones or tablets simultaneously, anywhere in the home (a limit of three devices is rather poor as even a modern couple will have 4-6 devices if you include the main STB, Smartphones and Tablets).

EE TV’s Special SmartBox (STB) Features

· Multiscreen: Designed to make programme clashes a thing of the past, Multiscreen allows users to stream live and recorded content directly from the EE TV box’s hard drive using a new remote app for iOS and Android. Up to four devices, including the home TV, tablets and smartphones, can stream different content at any one time, ensuring all members of the family can remotely access their favourite live and recorded shows over the same home network, in different rooms, even if they can’t get access to the main TV set.

· Replay: Allows the customers to view the last 24 hours of TV from their favourite channels, and presents the shows in a simple way by genres or channels – ideal for those who arrive home late or want to watch a programme not available on catch-up TV. The innovative UI also highlights top picks for the day, ensuring viewers never miss a thing.

· MultiRecord: Specifically designed for moments when scheduled recordings clash, MultiRecord will allow up to four separate programmes to be recorded simultaneously. Programmes are stored directly on the EE TV box, thanks to its huge 1TB hard disk drive, which offers space for up to 25 days of TV content.

· The EE TV app enables viewers to use their tablet or mobile as a next-generation touch remote. The app allows users to navigate EE TV’s programme guide and select the content they want to watch on their mobile device without interrupting what’s being displayed on their TV screen. Then, with a simple upward Flick, the content they’re watching can be instantly transferred to their TV screen, making changing channels more natural than ever before.

Apparently EE expects to add new content partners (beyond the usual Daily Motion, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and Wuaki.tv apps) in the “coming months” and also includes parental controls to help you restrict the viewing of adult content. The STB itself is said to be worth £300 and the broadband packages are as follows.

ee_tv_broadband_packages

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Phil says:

    I understand why large ISP’s (if we can still call them that, media providers is probably more appropriate these days) provide TV services. As the reviews on this site reveal, they cannot attract or keep customers based on the quality of their ISP service alone. So it is a great way to lock unwitting customers in and where possible generate additional income.OF course BT sport is just about the rivalry between BT and Sky. I am sure customers who are sport fans are not best pleased they have to change their ISP or pay extra to see a sport event as it happens.
    But other than for sport, I really don’t understand why anyone would or need to take up these TV services, especially if any of it ends up costing them more per month or locks them in to a long contract. 80% of TV content these days is not worth either of those options and is eventually available somewhere. For me Freesat via PVR recorder ( so I can record individual programs or TV series and catch up when I am ready without being tied to any ISP) and perhaps a Smart TV with all the terrestrial TV Iplayer and On demand services, plus all the film services like Netflix, Amazon prime, or the one I use, pay as you watch film service like Blinkbox, is more than enough and I have a choice regarding my phone and broadband provider and move whenever I want if the service deteriorates.

    1. Avatar ShadyCreek says:

      I agree with your sentiment Phil. Though in the short term, the attraction is the avoidance of having to lay out upfront cash for a PVR, even if that does mean one is locked into multiple services from the same provider.

      The best thing about all of this is that competition in this market has increased yet again. There’s more choice than ever in terms of selecting a tv service, and that can only mean prices will stay low, particularly since there remains such a huge slice of sky-pie to entice away. Good news for us all.

  2. Avatar Rob says:

    So If I bought this box for £300 and was not on EE for broadband or mobile. What features would still work and which wouldn’t.

    1. Avatar Peter says:

      Difficult to even hazard a guess, but when I cancelled Sky some time back (and service cut off a few hours before midnight) I was unable to watch anything which was recorded on the HD.. which reminds me, I must get round to removing that drive and slinging it into a PC for a few hundred GB extra storage!

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