EE 4G customers receive first benefits from the BT takeover in the form of free BT Sport for six months
EE contract customers will get six months of free access to BT Sport’s four channels as BT looks to repeat the trick of using premium sports content to gain more subscribers – although some business users will be excluded.
Pay monthly handset, tablet and SIM only customers are eligible for the offer, which BT says is the first of a “series of BT benefits” made available to EE customers. After six months, EE customers can keep the channels for £5 a month.
BT home broadband customers have been able to receive free BT Sport since the launch of the service in 2013, however some charges for high definition and other content do now apply.
EE BT Sport
But the deal has been a success and has helped the company fend off competition from Sky and others offering ‘triple play’ and ‘quad play’ bundles of communications services. And now, just like Vodafone’s offer of inclusive Sky Sports Mobile TV, BT is now looking to offer premium sports content to attract more users to EE, and increase revenue.
“Our customers have been telling us for a long time that they are watching more and more sport on the go, and this summer’s European Championship football tournament has driven traffic peaks that we’ve never seen before,” said EE CEO Marc Allera.
“Now, as part of BT Group, we are able to offer customers the chance to watch the very best in live domestic and European sport when out and about. With our ambition to reach 95% of the geography of the UK by 2020, EE customers will be able to watch Premier League football while on Hackney Marshes, or the America’s Cup in the middle of Lake Windermere.”
There are some caveats to the deal though. Access is only available through the BT sport app for iOS, Android and Windows, whereas BT broadband subscribers can get the channels on Sky, Freeview or BT TV if they so choose. EE broadband customers are excluded from the offer, as are Mobile Wi-Fi subscribers and pay as you go users. Large Business customers also miss out.
EE has confirmed to TechWeekEurope that streaming will be limited to two SIM-enabled EE devices and only one user will be able to stream at any one time. But analysts believe the offer is a significant demonstration of the power of the wider BT Group, which bought EE for £12.5 billion earlier this year, and is a boost for BT sport.
“As we predicted, this is a huge deal for both companies but especially for BT,” said Paolo Pescatore, analyst at CCS Insight. “First and foremost, we are seeing the first fruits of EE leveraging BT’s content asset and as a result of this, we fully expect to see a return of the BT brand on the high street with EE promoting BT Sport in store. The deal strengthens EE’s mobile offerings in light of rivals especially Vodafone who has been promoting content as part of its 4G tariffs.
“We expect BT Sport to have more sport subscribers than Sky Sports by the end of the year. This validates BT’s current strategy, and now that BT Sport has a sizable audience this will give the company confidence to invest further in key premium sports rights.”
EE has 14 million 4G customers, the most of any UK operator, and claims to have 96 percent population coverage. However, research from OpenSignal found that users on EE were only able to receive an LTE signal on 60.6 percent of the time. It does have plans to deliver 4G top 95 percent of the UK landmass by 2020, bringing population coverage to 99.8 percent of the country.