LONDON: Telco O2 is to enter the fiercely competitive UK pay-television market next year, following a successful trial of the service in the Czech Republic.
O2's owner, Spanish-headquartered Telefónica, will test broadband TV in Britain in partnership with content giants such as Warner Bros, HBO and Paramount. If successful, the service will be rolled-out at the end of 2008.
The Czech IPTV service, launched in September 2006, has attracted 70,000 customers to its 50-plus channels. Consumers there are eager to source broadband, mobile telephony and pay TV services from one supplier.
Telcos in the UK are equally eager to offer bundled services in a bid to keep their customers. They have, however, have proved more difficult to woo than their Czech counterparts.
O2 will be competing against the BT Vision IPTV service, which has signed 100,000 customers since its launch earlier this year.
BT, which also offers fixed-line telephony and broadband, insists it has met its targets, but rivals claim it had hoped for far higher numbers.
Figures from UK media regulator Ofcom show take-up of bundled services is rising slowly. The proportion of households in the UK adopting bundling rose from 35% in the third quarter of 2006 to 40% in Q1 this year.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff