As you know most of the department are extremely interested in sport, both on TV and at actual live venues such as St Marys' and Fratton Park. They also like visiting cricket grounds down here on the south coast at Southampton, Hove and Guildford. So there has been much discussion about the new BTSport offering which was launched on 1st August.
A few people heard a radio interview with Mark Watson from BT. He was very upbeat about the new package, describing it as a game changer. He said that over 500,000 customers had already signed up for the new service, including over 23 thousand during the month of July.
It is of course a triple play deal with broadband, telephone and digital TV bundled together.
However, when pressed by his interviewer, Watson admitted that the majority of those who had signed up for the service were existing BT broadband customers. The interviewer noted that BT had lost 7 million broadband customers since 2006. Was the new offer essentially a strategic investment designed to hold on to as many existing customers as possible rather than an attempt to attract new customers? Watson argued that broadband was still a growing market place and BT was looking to increase its market share.
The interviewer noted that BT had spent over £1 billion in acquiring football, rugby and other sports rights. But Sky subscribers would have free access to the new service, including the ESPN channels already on its system. Everyone in the cafe discussion agreed that no Sky subscriber would have any reason to switch to BT.
The interviewer asked Watson where he thought the service would be in three years time. Would they have acquired Champions League rights? Watson declined to answer this question but said that all BT services were regularly reviewed and that the company would respond appropriately to any new developments.
The advertising for the new service shows that there will be a regular programme hosted by Clare Balding. She is now rather ubiquitous. Is she spreading herself around too much?