Streaming Forum Keynote Preview: Multiscreen BT Sport Delivery—One Year On

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My, how things change in a year.

At the time of last year’s Streaming Forum in June 2013, BT Sport had earned rights to 38 English Premier League games but had yet to broadcast a single minute of coverage.

Fast-forward to spring of 2014. BT Sport now offers three Sport channels to around three million direct customers and is now set to start delivering all UEFA Champions League and Europa League broadcasts for three years beginning in 2015.

We are thrilled to have Jérôme Tassel, BT’s TV Architecture and Security Director, presenting the keynote on the opening day of the 2014 Streaming Forum in London. Called "Multiscreen BT Sport Delivery: One Year On," the keynote will look not just at the launch of BT Sport but also the launch of YouView and the evolution of BT's TV services along with the UK's first efforts at electronic sell-through.

The Launch of BT Sport

The Barclays Premier League win came as a surprise even to close observers. "Because of the nature of the project, it was a very closely guarded bid," Tassel says. "Not many people in the business knew what was happening. We found out in June 2012 that we won the rights, and had a year to launch. We were all at work on a Thursday afternoon, doing our jobs, when we found out we had spent three-quarters of a billion on rights and had a hard start when the Premiership season started (in 2013)."

The BT team had to build everything from scratch. "The first thing we had to do was create a channel, which is a whole different ballgame for BT, not just worrying about the delivery and the technology," Tassel says. "We had to create a channel, design its image, get talent, and fill the air 24/7, though we got people from the industry to do that and didn't have to do that ourselves. Then we had to build a production facility, the biggest studio in Europe, which we did in the space of a year."

The next challenge occurred on the delivery side. "It was a mix of set-top box (STB) development, unicast and multicast network delivery, and building an app for iOS and Android," he says. "And all of the systems to manage and operate all of that, that could take the tens of thousands of orders a day that would come in on top of our normal business. We already had a multicast platform, a CDN, and a STB, but were in the middle of the switch to Youview, and had to launch that at roughly the same time."

At launch, BT Sport was available on nine platforms including Freeview, YouView, IPTV, and iOS and Android devices. Google Chromecast support was added in April.

YouView and Electronic Sell-Through

In addition to discussing BT Sport, Tassel will also share his experience helping BT evolve its current TV offering. BT now has one million TV customers in the United Kingdom, according to informitv, and added 46,000 in the last quarter.

The BT YouView STB offers recording, 7-day catchup from BBC, iPlayer, ITV On Demand, 4oD, and Demand 5, and has just launched electronic sell-through for download or streaming.

The 2014 Streaming Forum will be held at the Park Plaza Victoria in London on 24-25 June.  Jérôme Tassel's keynote will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 24 June.

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