Posted on February 23, 2016
At Infopresse’s Television and Multiscreen conference on February 17th, Bell Canada exposed what the 136-year old telecom has been doing to stay relevant in a changing reality.
While bundling specialty channels, and providing access to Netflix has been an important part of Bell’s strategy for keeping users within their ecosystem, the real star of the show is Bell’s mobile and multiscreen offerings.
Redefining TV with an app
Bell states that 50% of Quebecers own a tablet and 60% of Quebecers own a mobile telephone. In the last two years only, Bell has observed a 10% increase in the number of people who watch TV online. From this, Bell concludes that Quebecers want to consume content on the platform of their choice, and they have responded with Bell Fibe and the Fibe TV app.
The Fibe TV app allows subscribers to watch TV on their tablet and smartphone. It also allows them to control what’s on their TV through their mobile device, search for shows and manage recordings. The app grants access to “practically” as many channels as a television, with approximately 450 channels available in the home, versus under 300 available out of the house. (These numbers are different on Bell Canada’s website, which states 300 available at home and 170 on the go.)
A few statistics
- While Bell anticipated that users would use their app on the go – during their lunch break or at the bus stop, most use actually happens in the home.
- While 40% of subscribers use the app to control their TV, 60% of subscribers treat their mobile devices as additional TV screens and use the app predominantly to consume content.
- Of that content, a surprising 80% is watched live, as opposed to on VOD, which is great news for advertisers.
- 30% of that content is sports. While the app is accessed on average 20,000 times per day in Quebec, during the Superbowl, it was accessed 45,000 times.
- In May 2015, Bell launched the Bell Fibe TV app for Apple Watch, letting users control their TV from their wrist. Only available in Ontario and Quebec so far, the app currently has a 3-star rating.
So is the app a success?
“It’s a new world,” says Nicolas Poitras, Vice-President of Residential Services for Bell Canada. The app has been downloaded 530,000 times. In one month alone (Dec. 2015), 320,000 hours of content were consumed. That’s an average of 40 minutes per download. A recent article in the Financial Post stated that Bell Canada has become Canada’s largest television provider, with 2.7 million subscribers across the country. That would suggest that 20% of Bell subscribers have downloaded their app. A hopeful statistic in an era of cord cutting. If subscribers find value in Bell’s digital ventures, they are less likely to break with cable.