EE has claimed a lack of exclusive content will not hinder its forthcoming TV service for its customers.
EE TV is a set-top box (STB) based service available to the UK operator’s mobile and broadband subscribers.
In contrast to rivals such as BT, which has spent billions on sports rights, EE has not invested in content.
The new service features 70 live channels via Freeview and OTT services including Daily Motion, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and Wuaki but lacks the likes of Netflix and 4OD.
EE said further partners are already confirmed to join the service, and will be announced in the coming months.
Pippa Dunn, EE’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “We strongly believe that the UK has the best [free TV] content proposition in the world...other content is also provided by OTT players. So we don’t really see a role for exclusive content.
“We think that the customer experience that we are going to give and the functionality that [EE TV] has got is strong enough on its own.”
The functionality that EE has developed is numerous. Customers can view live and recorded content across up to four iOS or Android devices, as well as their home TV.
A replay service allows customers to watch the last 24 hours of TV from up to six channels, while a multirecord feature enables up to four separate programmes to be recorded simultaneously.
The STB, which was developed by Netgem, can store up to 25 days of content on its 1TB hard disk drive.
Meanwhile, an EE TV app enables viewers to use their tablet or mobile as a remote control. Using a “flick” feature, users can transfer content they are watching on their smartphone directly onto their home TV.
The operator also pointed to a “dynamic” programme guide or user interface that had been designed to mimic that of a smartphone. Dunn said digital navigation had been “stuck in the 1990s”.
EE TV is free for new and existing EE mobile customers who also subscribe to EE Broadband plans of £9.95 a month or above.
Olaf Swantee, CEO, EE, said: “Today we’re announcing the most advanced TV service the UK has ever seen. How, where and when people watch TV and movies is changing, and mobile technology is driving that change.
“We have unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits. It’s helped us create a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before.”
But analysts warned EE needed to do more on the content front. CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore said: “EE will be the first of the four major mobile network operators to launch a quad-play service and it represents a statement of intent by the company to offer content in order to sell more broadband connections.
“However, given the exclusion of Netflix, EE must strongly consider forging agreements with other key rights owners including BSkyB for Now TV.
“The company must also strengthen the range of on-demand services as this is becoming increasingly important to consumers as underlined by Netflix’s growth.”
Analysys Mason’s Cesar Bachelet added: “EE TV proposition appears to be relatively weak on premium content. It is not going to cause significant churn from established pay-TV operators.
“However, this service appears to be designed as a retention strategy for existing fixed broadband customers that watch free-to-air TV, and to encourage EE mobile to consolidate their mobile and fixed services from EE.”