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BT Vision picks up as fiber goes deeper

BT Vision, the UK’s third biggest pay TV service, has increased its subscriber base by 23 percent over the last 12 months to end the first quarter of 2012 with 707,000 customers.

The country’s only significant IPTV operator added 28,000 customers in the first quarter, while signing new content deals with Miramax and UKTV. But, BT Vision’s biggest content coup lay in winning some of the rights to show English Premier League Football games between 2013 and 2015.

BT has agreed to pay £738m ($1.15 billion) for 114 Premier League football matches across three seasons. While a report by the Financial Times newspaper suggested BT would need to increase its TV subscription base to 2.5 million customers in order to break even on the deal, the rights give it the opportunity to grow and exploit the rights to gain additional revenues.

More good news for BT Vision came with the launch last week of YouView, the UK’s connected TV platform in which it is a stakeholder. BT Vision will now be aligned with the YouView platform, with all content in future delivered entirely over its broadband network, avoiding the need to pay for carriage over the UK’s digital terrestrial infrastructure for the premium linear TV channels as at present.
BT Vision will hope that increasing fiber deployment and higher broadband speeds will help reduce the level of customer complains, which still threatens to hinder growth.

According to figures from regulator Ofcom, BT Vision attracted more complaints per user in the first three months of 2012 than any other similar UK service, according to Ofcom. This is the first time the communications regulator has published complaints figures about the country's pay TV sector, and said BT Vision had attracted 27 complaints per 100,000 customers. This was almost 10x the level of UK pay TV leader, satellite operator BSkyB.

Ofcom said common complaints related to billing and sales processes, rather than technical problems with the package, suggesting that they are more growing pains than broadband issues.