BT Quad Play Versus Sky Q - One Bill Or The Big Game In The Study?

There's only one business media story that's the talk of the town today -- BT's GBP12.5bn acquisition of the country's biggest mobile phone operator, EE, has been given the green light. More specifically, game-changing quad play is just around the corner. When it does launch, it will likely coincide with Sky Q, the new "fluid" digital tv service from Sky and pose the question -- would you rather have a quad play deal on one BT bill or the ability to watch and record the widest choice of entertainment available around the house, and beyond?

When you talk of quad play, you probably have to concede you could currently buy all four from Virgin Media. However, people need to be in a cable area, and of course,Virgin is a virtual mobile phone operator -- it has no network itself. Customers would also need to put together their own package because the bundles the company advertises widely do not include mobile. It's a similar story with BT right now. You can buy all four services separately, but the mobile deal is a separate entity and the product pushed most heavily is a SIM only package.

Once the EE deal goes through, presumably sometime later this year, BT will have the ability to offer its current triple play with a fully fledged mobile network service, offering both pay-as-you-go, SIM only or monthly tariffs that pay off the latest shiny new phone bit by bit over a two-year period. 

Which companies stand to lose? Well, TalkTalk has been first out of the blocks to publicly criticise the deal and it's hardly surprising. It has made a big play of offering an extension of Freeview over its set-top box but once kids, entertainment, movies and sports are added, that initial low, headline price soon mounts up. Also, if you did go for sports, there's no BT Sports, so no European football and fewer Premiership and FA Cup games to choose from. It's a little like buying a PC from Dell -- the starting price seems great but once you have added what you require, the bill seems less appealing.

In a way, the same goes for BT TV at the moment. Sky Sports and Sky Movies can be added for £40 a month combined. Trouble is, there's no Sky Sports 3 so there's a little less choice, and you cannot order sports and movies channels and have a second BT box to view or record channels in an extra room.

Which brings us back to Sky and most specifically to Sky Q. Sky easily has the most comprehensive list of tv channels, box sets and on-demand services. It is simply miles ahead of any rival and it will soon, through Q, make recording and watching those shows in multiple locations simple. The only question is, for how much? We're likely to find out over the next few months. When we do, it will be a straight fight. BT will undoubtedly have the offer of quad play convenience -- and, you would imagine, competitive pricing all in one bill. Sky will have the convenience of watching and recording the widest choice of premium channels around the house or while out and about, albeit with the need to manage a separate phone contract.

For those who are tv mad and are glued to movies and sports, which they would ideally be able to start in the living room and finish watching in the study or in bed, Sky Q will appeal. For those who aren't too bothered by sports and don't mind just watching the odd movie on a regular channel, the likely quad play deals will probably appeal.

It will be a fascinating year ahead.

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