On Thursday, BT, the parent company of EE posted strong figures for the first quarter of the year. It’s believed that acquiring EE has helped the growth, but EE itself actually saw revenues fall in comparison with the same period last year.
BT posted group revenues of £5.78 billion, which was up 35% from the previous year, thanks to the contribution from EE. The BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said that the EE integration was ‘progressing well’, adding that the mobile network was performing strongly, both financially and commercially, as customers saw the benefit of the two companies combining. In short, EE added just over £1 billion to BT’s revenues. BT chose not to give comparative stats, but when looking at EE’s own report from last year, the mobile operator posted a revenue of £1.5 billion for the same period in 2015.
BT also said that the total number of subscribers to the mobile division had reached 30.3 million by the end of June, adding 224,000 in that period- over half of this number came from EE. This time last year, EE added 96,000 customers to its network.
What happened to EE TV?
EE TV launched in November 2014 as the ‘most advanced TV service ever’. You could record your favourite TV shows and watch them anywhere on a mobile device and watch hundreds of hours of content whenever you wished. It was treated as a live TV version of Netflix but the feature has now been removed just 18 months after launch. This was due to increasing levels of pressure from the likes of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Now, the channels are pressuring EE to remove the option to watch recorded content whenever you want. Back in April, EE TV became the first to offer customers the chance to record their favourite shows and watch them on a mobile device for an unlimited amount of time. Less than four months later, ‘recordings to go’ was pulled and all references to it were removed from the EE website. Industry sources say that many broadcasters were caught ‘off guard’ by the technology and the US studios who provided some of the programmings were worried about copyright infringement.
One industry expert compared EE TV to Sky Go, which offers a similar service and was well received by broadcasters at launch. The insider believed that EE had ‘undermined’ relationships with content providers. A spokesperson for EE confirmed that the service was removed following a conversation with rights holders. The BBC said that it did not licence or authorise the service, whilst both ITV and Channel 5 reiterated this. A Channel 4 spokesperson said that it was important to protect investment in UK programming by securing contractual agreements with third party content providers.
However, TV channels are still concerned about the EE TV ‘Replay’ feature because the service encourages advert skipping. The service automatically records a wide range of content for users, but the broadcasters who provide the content are said to be ‘watching it closely’ although they have not launched legal action just yet. One industry insider said that the only reason it is not a legal concern just yet is because EE TV has a relatively small subscriber base of 100,000.
A spokesperson for EE said that EE TV is the most ‘advanced service’ and helps to increase broadcasters’ viewership, whilst making more of their content available. The spokesperson added that they couldn’t comment on individual circumstances, but were speaking with several content providers about working together.