Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Concern about Limited IPTV Adoption

Strong anticipated growth may result in 57 million IPTV homes by 2013 -- or triple the end-2008 figure, according to a new market study by Informa Telecoms & Media.

Despite this acceleration, only 4 percent of the world's remaining pay-TV households are forecast to subscribe to IPTV platforms by 2013. In fact, Informa's assessment states that only 14 countries will have more than 1 million IPTV subscribers.

Report author Simon Murray said "This fairly limited penetration comes from having to migrate subscribers away from long-established cable and DTH services, as well as the impact of broadcast DTT to a lesser extent. However, there are examples of IPTV gaining a foothold even in the most competitive markets."

In the short term, Informa forecasts 18.6 million IPTV households by the end of 2008, up 8 million in the year. Asia Pacific and Western Europe are each responsible for nearly 3 million of the additions, with North America adding only 1.7 million subscribers.

However, the global figure currently represents just 2 percent of TV households.

Much of the future growth is expected to be in Asia Pacific. It will become the largest region by 2010. By 2013, Asia Pacific will contribute 22.2 million of the 57.0 million global total. China alone will have crossed the 10 million mark.

The U.S. hopefully won't be too far behind China, which may surprise some given the high cable and satellite penetration in the United States. However, IPTV operators have already scored success, winning with their triple-play packages and the traditionally fraught relationship between U.S. consumers and the cable operators.

Hong Kong will remain the top country in the world for IPTV penetration of TV households, thanks mainly to the inroads made by global market leader PCCW.

PCCW enjoyed rapid take-up by offering subscribers a-la-carte channel options and monthly -- rather than annual -- subscriber contracts. PCCW has also taken advantage of the slow reactions of established cable operator I-cable.

However, the company is now encouraging subscribers to invest in longer term packages to increase revenues and reduce seasonality of revenues -- for example, turnover falls when the European soccer seasons end.

More than a third of Hong Kong's TV households receive IPTV signals. Although the growth is slowing, half its TV households will take IPTV by 2013. Hong Kong will remain way ahead of the next country.

By 2013, Singapore will be second, with 20 percent IPTV penetration. Singapore's market bears similarities to Hong Kong as SingTel battles against the established cable operator StarHub Cable Vision. Taiwan will be just behind Singapore with 19 percent penetration.

France will be in third place with 18 percent penetration, just ahead of the Netherlands and Belgium -- both of which are heavily cabled, but the IPTV operators have introduced attractive enough packages to win subs over.

By 2013, IPTV penetration will be higher than 10 percent of TV households in 12 countries. However, 14 countries covered in the Informa forecast will record penetration of 2 percent or less. Like the U.S. market, Latin America will record low rates, mainly due to the slow start of IPTV in much of the region.