UK mobile network operator EE has today launched its own set-top box in a bid to grab a slice of the UK’s on-demand TV market.
Announced today, the EE TV set-top box and service allows users to watch on-demand TV, as well as the regular selection of Freeview channels, including some in HD. On demand providers for launch including the likes of BBC iPlayer and Wuaki.tv
Company chief Olaf Swantee said that mobile is “at the heart of the experience” and that UK TV viewers currently watch free-to-view channels for up to 80 percent of their total viewing, even if they pay for a TV package.
Unlike some of its rivals, users will be able to watch two different programmes in different rooms simultaneously (on up to four devices) and you can also control the EE TV box via a mobile or tablet. It’s also possible to pause and resume shows across different devices, as is convenient for you.
On the hardware side of things, the box has 4 HD tuners, 1TB hard drive for storing content, dual-band Wi-Fi, 1Gbit ethernet connectivity and full HBB-TV support.
EE TV will be free for all EE mobile customers who already have (or sign up to) an EE Broadband plan. Eligible plans start from £9.95 per month. However, only EE mobile plus home broadband customers will be able to sign up for now. EE said it will be available “shortly”.
The move puts the mobile and fixed-line broadband operator in direct competition with traditional rivals like Sky, BT and Virgin Media, as well as online-only streaming services like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video.
In recent months, ‘triple’ or ‘quad-play’ bundles (phone/TV/internet/mobile) have increased in popularity, so it’s little surprise that EE wants to look to new ways to bring in additional revenues. However, right now, EE says that it “doesn’t really see a role for exclusive content”, which differs from Netflix and Amazon’s approach.
The launch is also designed to improve the company’s reach into new market segments by demographic – ‘generation M’ is far more likely to ‘second-screen’ while watching TV programs.