Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/19/bt_signs_up_squarepants/

BT Vision gains speed with new content deal

Drops tasters to encourage punters to bite

By Bill Ray

Posted in Networks, 19th October 2006 15:14 GMT

BT has signed deals with MTV, Paramount Comedy, and Nickelodeon UK to provide content for the BT Vision service due to be launched this autumn.

Shows such as Sponge Bob Squarepants, Pimp My Ride and South Park will join with already-sourced content from Dreamworks, Sony BMG, Paramount, and Universal, not to mention all the Freeview channels.

Providers of video content, long worried about the impact of internet-piracy, are finding themselves born-again evangelists of the digital economy as video-on-demand services seem to offer new revenue for old content. But the desire for service providers to be associated with big media brands might not prove the long-term hope it appears.

Readers with long memories might remember a time, just before Google, when everyone was talking about portals. These portals vied to become the customer's home page: that advertiser's nirvana seen every time the user logs on. They rushed about buying up content from traditional media providers, firmly convinced that the right combination would bring everyone flocking to their door.

What actually happened was that a million specialist websites came along, and now the big news on the internet is user-generated content. Individually next to worthless, such content can make a compelling business when accumulated together.

Companies with proper video on demand, like BT, have the advantage here - they can cope with a much wider range of specialist content than the broadcasters, and switch that content quickly to reflect changes in mood or fashion.

Today BT might need Mr Squarepants, but tomorrow it could show a more specialist TV offering. ®