Sport. Michael Owen is on the team. So is Robin van Persie. In fact, with Rio Ferdinand in defence and David James in goal, it is not a bad team. But this is no football side. It’s BT’s new sports commentary team. The very tall – at least he looks very tall when standing next to Formula One drivers – Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding are on-side too.

It is just part of BT’s broadside against, well against lots of companies, but BSkyB in particular.

And BT seems to be playing it both ways. So, you can sign-up to the full service, and use BT for your broadband, TV, and…well…the works. Or course, you can just use BT for your broadband and get its sports coverage thrown in for free. So that’s both sides covered. But there is a third side too. Don’t want BT as your main TV provider, don’t want its broadband, but do wants its sport coverage… well you can just sign up for that. So BT is going against and complementing BSkyB all at the same time.

Then there is its second goal – 4G – BT has joined the world of 4G, and is back in the game of providing a mobile service network for the first time since it sold 02. Its third goal – or attempt at a goal at least – is its ambitious aim to roll out its fibre optic network – it already has 1.5 million customers for this service.

And yet BT – along with BSkyB, ITV, Channel Four, Virgin Media, and even the BBC – faces a new type of challenge. There is premium content from the Internet as the likes of YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu enter the world of TV content. This is the approach that enables content providers to provide their own channel under the auspices, say, of YouTube.

You may be feeling a sense of déjà vu. A similar war was declared one and a half decades ago, as the ISPs – the likes of AOL – provided their proprietary content, and virtually tried to lock users in to their content only. Non-proprietary won the day, of course.

Now the war is being replayed, but this time the battle ground is over TV type content.

© Investment & Business News 2013

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