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BT and EE Seeking UK Broadband Pay TV Deal with Apple

Monday, October 8th, 2018 (8:21 am) - Score 14,733
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Newspaper reports have claimed that ISP BT are in early discussions with Apple over what could represent a significant shift in their Pay TV strategy within the United Kingdom, which might result in their EE mobile brand bundling Apple’s set-top-boxes with their home broadband and phone packages.

Sources are alleged to have informed the Telegraph (paywall) that if all goes to plan then EE’s broadband customers could expect to receive a pre-loaded IPTV (video streaming) box from Apple, which would include various apps, as well as support for BT Sport and TV channels from other broadcasters.

The arrangement is described as being similar in nature to the one that telecoms operator Salt has with Apple in Switzerland, where the 32GB Apple TV 4K box is re-packaged as Salt.tv. The box is then shipped with access to 300 live TV channels, Dolby Atmos sound and cloud based PVR (video recording) features (see details).

Mind you Salt offers that alongside a 10Gbps symmetric FTTP broadband service at €49.95 and we’re a long way from seeing anything affordable like that from Openreach’s network in the UK, although rivals like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear could do it if they saw a demand for more than 1Gbps. But of course you don’t need all that speed for 4K TV channel streaming (a single 4K stream tends to use c.15-30Mbps variable).

The possible deal seems to mirror the kind of partnership that Sky (Sky Broadband) has already established with Roku, which resulted in their low cost NOW TV (NOW Broadband) brand. This distributes the Roku set-top-boxes with various apps, Video-on-Demand (VoD) content and live access to Sky’s premium TV channels. Indeed competing or even beating this may be part of BT’s goal, particularly in light of the recent Comcast news.

At this point some might ask: “Why would they do this on EE but not BT’s own Pay TV platform?” Part of the reason might be because BT’s own Pay TV solution is currently based around the YouView model of set-top-boxes (for now..), while EE’s TV service has a different pre-BT merger history and lately hasn’t been given much attention. EE thus makes a good platform to test this out.

We also note that existing EE customers can already add Apple’s 4K TV box plan from just £15 a month for 11 months, with £14 upfront (or £179 as a one-off payment). So there’s already an established relationship, even if the content side still needs some work in order to meet the aforementioned Pay TV service proposal.

At present the two sides are described as being in early discussions, so we might not learn of the outcome until next year.

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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.
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16 Responses
  1. Avatar Stewm

    Surely it would make more economic sense just to operate one system through the BT Group rather than the Apple Box and the Youview Box at present? The original backers splitting away from Youview leaving the cost burden on BT and Talk Talk?

  2. Avatar chris conder

    Content. That is the market BT seek to dominate, along with mobile. Then openreach will be hived off and poor old ofcom will have to build a fibre network for the brave new world. Meanwhile kids with skills can get all the content they like for free. We’ll lock all the pirates up, and hackers will continue to threaten our institutions. BT fiddling whilst Rome burns.

    • Avatar Negan is back tonight!

      Not a fan of BT/Openreach, Christine?

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      It is not Openreach’s responsibility to provide FTTP to the UK. They may be the largest company and are in the best position due to their history however they are a commercial company. It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that there is an environment where network providers will invest with FTTP in those areas that cannot be supported on a purely commercial basis only. The Government currently still does not recognise Broadband and a decent speed as an essential service despite their good words as confirmed by their pathetic USO proposal.
      As for content it is a very complex industry with payments in many directions as recently experienced by VM, it does not always follow logic. What users want is a single do it all box but there never has been one. BT Group retain BT, EE, Plusnet (and 150+ other entities) each focused on their own customer markets. Each analyse their market and seek to bring forward profitable products to meet their customer needs whist maintaining their brand and differential just like Unilever, Nestle and other large groups do.

  3. Avatar Name

    Linear tv is dying. If Netflix or Amazon will offer full sport stack like all Premier League, Champions League, other European leagues on demand, and Formula1, then people in their 50s will stop paying to Ofcom/Sky/Virgin/BT.

    • Avatar spurple

      NowTV and ElevenSports and BT Sport App already do. PayTV is still going strong.

      I personally was a cable cutter for a few years in the past. Convenience brought me back. Easier to scan through a list of channels on Sky than to skim 5 different apps looking for what to watch.

  4. Avatar Onephat

    I can’t see the likes of Netflix and Amazon going majorly into sport. Yeh amazon have a bit of tennis and a few PL games soon but a massive investment in sports rights pushes up the cost. Netflix et al have been successful because compared to sky it’s cheap.

    • Avatar Alex Loche

      Amazon has a lot more sport than you think. They have Open championships and also 39 ATP tours all exclusive. They also have other rights too. Don’t be surprised if Amazon go for more.

    • Avatar Mark

      Haha I can tell you your wrong, Sky has essentially ditched all sports bar the ones it’s sports channels cover. That’s an awful awful awful lot of sports up for grabs, Amazon has started with tennis and is actually sniffing around football now too, they have the money to outbid Sky.
      You watch, over the next few years it will change who you go to for your TV. This is not including Now TV which recently launched a new 4K streaming box.

      The Apple TV box and Roku systems are the only ones that have Now TV and Amazon and Netflix apps available.

  5. Avatar onephat

    They have sport but they don’t seem to be interested in going to the “major” costly sporting events. I appreciate they have a few premier league games but they hardly invested heavily compared to say what Sky/BT did. Im sure we’re both in agreement that if amazon wanted to go big they could blow Sky etc out of the water, they just don’t seem interested.

  6. Avatar Simon

    Bundle it with Apple gear – nice! FTTC with an Imac for example

  7. Avatar Hmm

    With the BT Sport app being trialled on ATV, this looks imminent.

  8. Avatar Sam

    More pissing Apple taking over our lives 🙁

  9. Avatar Sam

    More Apple taking over, do we really want a world ruled by Apple and Amazon?

  10. Avatar Tom

    Fck that. I’ll leave if EE/BT are up the arse of appple

  11. Avatar Craig

    Had Freesat and went back to Sky, one of the reasons was watch a lot of Channel 4 and Freesat no longer offer it in HD.

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