Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Discover IPTV Innovation, Move to France


The total number of IPTV subscribers grew by 117 percent in 2007 to reach 12.34 million, up from 5.71 million at the end of 2006, according to the latest research from Informa Telecoms and Media.

The biggest world region by far remains Western Europe, which passed 6.9 million IPTV subscribers in 2007 to account for 57 percent of the global total.

The bulk of subscriptions were in France, where incumbent France Telecom and alternative operators Free, Neuf and Telecom Italia's Alice, had attracted more than 5 million IPTV customers by creatively bundling the service free with broadband.

While a large proportion of these subscribers may not be paying for additional content, they do receive free-to-air channels with their basic triple-play packages. France is in a league of its own when it comes to IPTV subscriptions. The country has nearly 10 times as many IPTV subscriptions as second-placed Spain and close to 75 percent of the Western Europe total.

Some of Western Europe's larger broadband operators finished 2007 with more modest bases. Although Deutsche Telekom and BT more than doubled their subscriber numbers to above 100,000 each, both still have some way to go to match the relative gains reached by their incumbent counterparts elsewhere.

Simon Murray, Principal Analyst (TV & Media) comments "2007 was a watershed year for IPTV as many Western European telcos launched full packages. It will be interesting to note their approach to IPTV in the future -- whether it is used to increase customer loyalty or whether it is a genuine money-making stand-alone service."

Notable gains were also made by the Asia-Pacific region where China is now at or around the one million subscriber mark, with SMG, delivering IPTV in Harbin and Shanghai grew nine-fold in the year. It still has slightly fewer IPTV subscribers than in Hong Kong, which passed the one million mark in September and is now the world's most mature IPTV market, serving TV to 60 percent of DSL customers.

The United States has begun to make headway, adding more than one million customers in 2007, largely on the back of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) roll-outs led by Verizon (FiOS) and AT&T Broadband. However, less than half of the broadband subscribers in the USA connected using FTTH to view their TV programming.

Relative to competing multi-channel television platforms, IPTV is still in the first phase of roll out and growth, with just 55 operators representing over 99 percent of global IPTV subscribers and IPTV itself representing less than 3 percent of all global multi-channel TV subscribers.