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EE ready to ‘rock’ the UK TV market

Michael Garwood
October 20, 2014

Operator to take on BT and Sky after ‘reinventing’ the viewing experience with EE TV

Olaf Swantee claims EE has provided a “huge wake-up call” to its network rivals after becoming the first mobile operator to enter the television space with EE TV.

The operator’s chief executive (pictured), who was speaking at the firm’s Paddington offices this month, claims EE has been a key instigator in driving the UK market forward – with an ever-growing list of “first to market” offerings such as 4G, sharer plans and portable hotspots.

Swantee said EE has been planning its entry into TV for a year and follows significant growth of its Home Broadband division, which has added more than 70,000 customers in the past year and was the fastest-growing UK provider in Q2.

He lauded EE TV as the “most advanced” and “intuitive” TV service in the UK today.

“Mobile has changed many industries forever, such as music and publishing.” said Swantee. “In our view it will change the TV market as well. It’s time for a new era with mobile at the heart of the experience. Just a year ago we all sat down together and said we want to make sure when we bring EE TV to the market we need to really rock the UK and make a true difference. We woke up the competition by becoming the first to launch 4G and today we are taking EE somewhere completely new with EE TV.”


The product, which requires a fixed line connection to an EE set-top box (worth £300), provides 1TB of storage (equivalent of 600 hours or 25 days recording), more than 70 Freeview channels, and a number of on-demand, catch-up and app services (see box out, right).

Chief marketing officer Pippa Dunn, also at the event, hailed EE TV as the most “technologically-advanced” TV service in the UK, and transforms a standard TV into a smart TV without the additional cost.

Other services include rewind, pause, record – plus a new “restart” feature, which records up to six selected channels 24 hours a day, ensuring users can always watch a programme from the start, even if it has already begun.

Users are also able to switch what they are watching from the TV to a tablet and vice versa. For example, if someone is watching a programme on their tablet but is able to get to the TV, they can switch by using an upward flicking motion. The programme will then appear and run from the exact same position as on the tablet or smartphone.

“You can finish watching your favourite episodes of your favourite programmes in the kitchen, the bathroom, or frankly even the bath,” commented Dunn.

The product has been trialled by more than 500 EE staff over the past year – and is due to become available through EE’s 600-plus stores before the end of the month. It will not be available through EE indirect partners, including Carphone Warehouse.

“Despite its very compact size, the EE box is twice as powerful as anything else on the market,” said Dunn. “EE TV has all the features you’d expect from a premium service, plus some that you wouldn’t.

“We’ve all had times when we’ve got back late and missed the start of a favourite programme. At best you have to wait 50 minutes for those plus one channels to watch it.

“What EE TV does, it records all the previous 24 hours of six channels of your choice – it means you can start a programme when it’s halfway through.

“EE TV really has been designed with today’s consumers in mind, and really does offer people something new. We are confident our customers will love not only the value but the experience as well.”

Changing behaviour
Another new addition – which EE claims is something unmatched by the likes of Sky and BT –  includes the ability to view and record up to four different channels on four different screens (TV plus three mobiles or tablets) at the same time.

Swantee said its decision to introduce a multi-screen option is based on market trends and viewing behaviour. He claims statistics show that 61 per cent of people are now “dual screening” – watching two screens at once, such as TV and Twitter.

He added the number of screens in a UK home is between six and eight, whilst the number of physical TV sets has fallen from 2.3 in 2003, to 1.83 today. All of which has helped build EE TV.

“People are spending less time with their family or with friends in front of a big screen. Clearly there are the big events like X Factor where people come together and watch TV for an hour or so, and then typically go back to their typically individual and personal TV experience.

“The development of fibre in home broadband and 4G and the technological advances have enabled people to start watching TV and video content across multiple devices.

“The other key trend we are seeing which is very important in the development of EE TV is that of dual screening. I’m seeing my children in the home watching two programmes at once, something on the big screen and something on their smartphone or tablet.

“This dual screening is becoming very important and we can see this on our mobile network. At peak-time TV hours between 6.30 and 10.30pm, 40 per cent of UK tweets are about TV shows.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 575 (October 20, 2014).

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