Aims to grow broadband from niche to mass market

LONDON — British telco giant BT is launching an entertainment division and has hired Universal exec Dan Marks to spearhead its video-on-demand strategy.

BT Entertainment will provide content to broadband subscribers, including movies, TV, music and gaming.

Marks, prexy of Universal Studios Networks U.K. and head of the Sci Fi Channel, will join BT early next year. He will report to Andrew Burke, the new CEO of BT Entertainment.

“(This division) shows BT’s commitment to being at the leading edge of broadband developments in the U.K. and maximizing the opportunities enabled within the home,” Marks said.

BT believes that offering entertainment and education services is vital to expand broadband from a niche service into the mass market.

If successful, it could challenge traditional pay TV platform BSkyB, NTL and Telewest as well as the video-rental business.

BT’s retail arm provides services to more than 20 million business and residential customers in the U.K., and is the country’s largest Internet service provider.

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