Microsoft Mediaroom-Powered Hybrid IPTV Service, BT Vision, Has 423,000 Customers

In the course of announcing earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter and year Thursday, UK incumbent telco, BT, said that its Microsoft Mediaroom-powered IPTV service, BT Vision, had 423,000 customers as of March 31st, compared to 398,000 at the end of the prior quarter, and that in March "customer viewing was an average of 30 views" (note: BT Vision is enabled via a hybrid set-top box that allows viewers to access linear channels from the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, alongside IP-delivered on-demand content). The company also said that 90% of the service's new customers opted to subscribe to one of its VOD programming packages at the point of sale--this despite the fact that BT stresses in its marketing of the service that it allows viewers to access content on a pay-per-view basis without committing to a subscription ("watch what you want, when you want it--without any subscription commitments"). While BT Vision's customer base is significantly larger than those of the UK's other IPTV providers, Tiscali and Freewire (which, at last count, had around 100,000 and 50,000 subscribers respectively), the figures announced by BT Thursday actually represent the service's slowest quarterly growth to date. Nevertheless, according to BT, revenues generated by BT Vision helped to partially offset an 8% decline in revenue from calls and lines that resulted in a 7% decline in revenue for the company's Consumer arm.

In other recent BT Vision news: In January, BT announced that it had signed a deal with Virgin Media Television to offer shows from the latter's Living channel on the service. According to BT, the deal gives BT Vision customers access to over 100 hours of programming from around 25 Living shows, including such titles as "Dirty Dancing," "Extreme: Skinny Celebrities," "Ibiza 2008" and "Most Haunted," on a special Living-branded area on the service. Two to three new series are rolled out on the Living area each month. Customers can purchase the programming on a pay-per-view basis for a 24-hour viewing window, or can access it is as part of a subscription to BT Vision's TV Pack and Value Pack (Bronze, Silver and Gold) subscription packages. "Living are a prestigious brand and the youth and female focus fits well with the BT Vision demographic," Marc Watson, director of content and business development for BT Consumer, said in a prepared statement issued when BT announced the launch of Living's programming on BT Vision. "Shows such as 'Living with the Cheeky Girls' and 'Living with Boy George' should further grow our audiences who have made MTV titles, 'Kerry Katona: Crazy in Love' and 'Totally Jodie Marsh,' top sellers."