BT 1 – Customers 0.

Having repeatedly failed with customers and against competitors, BT seeks salvation through football.

Recent news that BT had bought the rights to show the Champion’s League is a great deal for BT, but a bad one for football fans, for clubs and for UEFA.


An Impressive Legacy Of Failure

I am not an expert or analyst in communications industry, but of the little that I do know, is that coming from a monopolistic position it is astounding how many corporate cock-ups and bad management decisions that BT has made in recent years.

  • BT moved into mobile – Delivery was terrible
  • BT moved into integrated communications – exited too quickly to see market mature
  • BT moved into hardware – Terrible products
  • BT moved into broadband – Poor service and repeated complaints
  • BT refocused on home phones – they are terrible at this
  • BT tries VOIP – response to Skype is MIA
  • BT tries TV – ???

I would hypothesise that the only reason why the company is operating (and able to be able to buy these TV rights) is the strategy of aggressive cost cutting by Lord Livingstone supplemented by price rises across all basic services.

Come On.. How Bad is BT Really?

It is pretty bad. It is regularly voted one of the worst companies in Britain.

See here:

BT Named Worse Customer Service Provider (All Industries)

and here:

BT Voted Worst Home Phone Provider

and here..

BT is named worst landline provider


BT Customer

In short, BT is regularly voted one of the worst companies in Britain. It has repeatedly failed at all its core competencies, and the management have identified that if they try and compete in ANY industry, they will fail.

Why Football?

A quick referral to Porter’s 5 Forces Model we can see the predicament facing BT:


Porters 5 Forces

Therefore, strategically the only future BT has is that it must buy a product or service that gives them a monopoly – which is the only condition where customers would subscribe to their service. This is the reason why BT have paid over £1bn for sports rights; without acquiring a product that is non-substitutable, they lose to their competition on every other sphere and are therefore dead as a business.


Gavin Patterson: Brave Decision Maker

Why Consumers Are Losers

BT has shown little regard to its customers over the years and there is no reason to believe that those genuine fans who shell out to pay for the football will be treated any differently. I predict that they will start off offering free and cheap games, then raising prices at the earliest opportunity – this is the BT modus operandi.

Occasional football fans will also be the losers. For many of us who are fans of Champions League teams, we will pay to watch, but the likes of my late grandma, who loved to watch that occasional Man United game on a Wednesday night, will not make the move.

Clubs Are Losers

My own parents were not football fans and we didn’t have a Sky Sports subscription. To be exposed to the magic of Champions League games was the one unifying aspect of the school playground and has allowed the Champions League clubs to harvest the majority of casual fans from the playground midweek. By putting coverage behind a pay wall, the big clubs’ exposure, especially to kids who can’t just pop down to the pub, will be limited and the collective history that binds fans from an early age, will be lost.

UEFA Are Losers

If I were Michael Platini and the UEFA Sponsors, I would be seething, with access to his premier competition now limited to the few and not the many, and taken off the tried, tested and free to air platforms that have made his product such a success. It is undoubted that with restricted access, the Champions League, at least until the final games, will lose its lustre.

For the customer, this is the ultimate gamble between desirable product and terrible brand. We are the losers either way.



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