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IPTV in France, South Korea and Hong Kong

The bleak market outlook in the last quarter of 2008 did not seem to deter the global growth of pay-TV services. Service operators, especially those in mature high-speed Internet economies -- many of which are in the Asia-Pacific region -- continue to strive towards providing interactive bi-directional television.

According to new pay-TV market data from ABI Research, APAC will continue leading subscription growth, delivering a 37 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next three years.

Telco TV in general will grow at an estimated CAGR of 29 percent over the next three years to 47 million subscribers globally by the end of 2011.

ABI Research industry analyst Serene Fong notes that, "By the end of 2008, telco TV usage continued to be concentrated in countries such as France, South Korea and Hong Kong. Massive countries such as China and India are still very much inhibited by the lack of sufficiently broad bandwidth but they are expected to be high growth markets in the years to come."

User experience and individualization is of absolute importance in the telco TV realm. As more operators leverage alternative service platforms (telco TV especially) in a desperate bid to save their dwindling revenues, the fundamental goal is to achieve user stickiness.

And the eventual winners will be those who have a good variety of content, are able to handle user participation, and can aggregate and even reconstruct user content wherever necessary.

As the popularity of telco TV grows nearly exponentially, legacy satellite, cable, and terrestrial TV formats will also witness cannibalization.

However Fong believes that, "They will continue to retain their footholds in their key markets for some time. And we will continue to see overall growth heading north for a while, but it will become more and more constrained."

I believe that the real volatility in the pay-TV sector continues to surface from free over-the-top live TV streaming, and numerous video-on-demand options that include ad-supported full length popular feature films and documentaries.

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