Mobile News sat down with EE Chief Marketing Officer Pippa Dunn to discuss the reasons behind EE’s entry in to the TV market
Why has EE entered the TV space?
We looked at the overall market and really identified where the consumer pain points were and also what was available now from a technology point of view in terms of what was the best device and technology to go for. So we did that first and then selected NetGem as a partner and worked with them closely in putting mobile at the centre of the whole experience and making sure we were creating a user experience which felt more akin to a mobile than to TV. My principles going into this were to keep it simple and to keep it intuitive. So in fact the box can do a hell of a lot more than we demonstrated today but we have sort of stripped it back to make it very simple and easy to understand. We think we have something here that’s very interesting.
This was all kept very quiet. Presumably EE had conducted customer trials?
We started with a user trial initially with just a small group of people internally – we now have more than 500 people using it – all EE employees. We didn’t want it to leak. We have gone through the entire experience with them. Rather than just handing them a box, they’ve had the box delivered and gone through the initial set-up in their homes. We made sure all that process worked as well, setting-up the call centre to make sure they could answer all their inquiries. In fact there were so few issues we had to start calling ‘customers’ to ask them if it was working OK and how their experience has been or what they need help with.
You are the first mobile operator to launch a TV service. How do you think your rivals will respond?
I really don’t know. At EE we try and just look forward and get our own house in order, doing the right thing for our customers and what we believe in whilst constantly innovating. We are completely pushing forward rather than obsessing what our rivals are doing or what they are looking at. I’ll leave it for them to worry about.
Who do you consider your primary targets for EE TV?
We are looking at this to increase our Home Broadband penetration but also to drive loyalty and retention amongst those customers. The more products they have from us and the better the experience then the more likely they are to stay. The bull’s-eye of the customers we are looking to appeal to are the Freeview customers, of which 40 per cent of homes use, and this is a Freeview with bells and whistles and everything else on top.
There are the other bunch of people currently paying for TV services but not actually using it; there are an awful lot of people spending huge amounts – some £80 a month. So for those people, you can get the premium experience without the premium cost.
If a customer reading this has Sky for example, why would they switch to EE TV?
We are not going after those customers aggressively. We genuinely believe there is a big enough market for us with those 40 per cent Freeview customers. We believe those customers currently in contract with Sky or BT aren’t necessarily going to come across in the first instance, but we do think we actually have a much better product and service than those guys have got – multi-room for example. The ability to watch both live and recorded TV programmes in four different rooms is something you would normally pay extra for with Sky – and even then you can’t watch a recorded programme. It’s a better service.
The box and the service is free to EE broadband customers. Is that a promotion or a permanent offering?
I would never say anything will always be free because if you look at the market and as it evolves you may want to adjust your pricing. Certainly for the launch period and foreseeable future this is a free product for our broadband customers.
It’s only for EE customers. Why limit your addressable audience?
There are a couple of reasons for this, the main being that if you’re an EE broadband customer we know the quality of service you’re getting. We’ve tested it endlessly on that service and therefore we can be confident in that we will be able to offer a great experience. We want to make sure we get that right and control that as much as possible. Secondly, this is about customer loyalty, so it’s as much for making sure our existing broadband customers are happy with us as it is about going out and taking large amounts of market share.
Only Android and iOS were mentioned on stage – does this mean Windows and BlackBerry users need not apply?
It’s just those two at launch. We will always have a look at it. We have gone where the majority of the market is by some considerable margin and focusing on making sure that we tested that against multiple variants and multiple handsets. Getting that app and that experience right for those was our primary focus. It’s not a no for BlackBerry and Windows users, it’s just not yet. They could be added.
How will you be marketing the service?
I wanted to get staff trained properly and do it through our retail stores so they can demonstrate it to customers when they walk in. All stores will be set up with it and ready to rock and roll when it’s launched. When we are super confident with all of that, next year you can anticipate we are going to go big with it.
What about other retail partners?
It will be just in our stores for now. It’s too early to say whether others may be included in the future.
You said you’ve identified issues with Freeview. What are the biggest?
Genuinely it’s the overall user interface. People are so used to consuming content on their mobiles these days. It’s super simple and clear. The multi-room multi-screen is another key thing which no one else is doing and if they are you can’t watch recorded shows and have to pay extra – that’s a massive thing. There are some big step changes in the customer experience and how it operates.”
Will it have options, such as BT does, to add premium content like Sky Sports?
We are launching with the content partners mentioned (see previous pages) and we don’t have things like Sky from launch.
EE’s marketing has been heavily around 4G access out of the home – even watching on a roller-coaster. Why is this an “in home” only proposition?
Essentially, it’s not the functionality or the capability of the service, it’s about the rights and regulation associated with it. That is something we are going to have to work on – and clear-up those issues.
Finally, how do you think EE will be perceived in the next few years?
I think people will see us as a provider of content information and communication in and out of the home. We are less constrained than some of the more traditional people [rivals] by the way the brand is perceived. We are young and have been very innovative since launch, it’s natural for people to undertake why EE might do that. We aren’t necessarily just the mobile guys. Clearly we have 27 million customers and are and will always be a mobile company but we can easily expand into new areas.