Britain's BT Links With ITV for Programme Archive Service

18 November 2008

LONDON: The UK's largest commercial broadcaster ITV announced Monday it had  forged a partnership with the nation's biggest telecoms operator BT to provide a nationwide 'catch-up' and archive programme service via the latter's BT Vision.

BTV provides a range of broadband-delivered pay-TV packages to standard antenna-reception TV sets. It already includes content from the other national broadcasters: the BBC, Channel 4 and Five.

BT claims its service is free from the bandwidth and picture quality problems that have so far impeded to uptake of internet TV, although there is a downside.

Unlike standard ITV transmissions, BTV doesn't come free and viewers will be required to pay £3 ($1.49; €1.17) monthly for its Replay service. In addition there is a wide variety of other packages on offer at rate of up to £20 per month.

Although the value of the agreement is unquantified, it's a deal made in heaven for both parties.

ITV sees it as a stepping stone towards its target of doubling online revenues by 2012; and it will enable BT to expand its comparatively puny customer base beyond its current level of 340,000 – that's just 10% of Virgin Media's cable-homes and light years distant from BSkyB's circa nine million.

As is customary on such occasions, win/win euphoria oozed from both parties.

Says ITV Online director Ben McOwen Wilson: "The deal with BT Vision will allow us to be able to reach new audiences with both our catch-up and archive on-demand content. [It] allows us to add another string to our bow in distributing our content wider."

While Marc Watson, Content & Business Development director at BT Consumer declared it to be "a massive addition to the BT Vision on-demand offering".

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff