by Edward Qualtrough

Building BT Sport platform was the perfect goal, says CIO

Nov 20, 20132 mins
IT LeadershipIT StrategyMedia and Entertainment Industry

BTCIO Clive Selley and his team relished the challenge of creating a television platform for the BT business in a year and one month.

Speaking at a CIO UK event, Selley discussed the challenges and pressures of launching a sports channel from scratch when BT won the rights to broadcast Premier League football for three seasons from 2013 until 2016 – a bid that cost the organisation £738 million.

And earlier this month it was announced BT Sport had won a further £897 bid to show European Champions League football from next year.

Selley said that the company had been intent on getting a television channel driven by trends in consumer behaviour of lumping their broadband, phone and TV deals together as a single payment, and that Premier League football was a key part of that strategy.

“When we won the rights in July 2012 it gave us exactly one year and one month until our launch at the start of the football season this year, which was really great as a team project.

“When you spend £1 billion on football rights, it really motivates your department,” he quipped.

“And 200,000 watched the first televised Manchester United match on our channel on an iPad or Android device.”

Selley admitted that there had been some teething problems with their streaming on Android tablets, and that his team actually found out about the fault through monitoring social media channels before any of their own systems flagged a problem.

Selley was also excited by the ‘party’ his departments could have in finding imaginative ways of monetising their new flagship product.

He said that he had a team looking at Silicon Valley start-ups and how technologies they are working on could be incorporated into their package, citing an in-editing software product that could piece together footage of a viewer’s favourite player, for example, as one thing they were looking at.

And while many subscribers are watching live sport, fundamentally Selley expects television viewing to become a predominantly on-demand experience, he said.

“And we’ve just spent another billion on Champions League football; we think it’s a gamble that will pay off.”