Strong worldwide IPTV growth

By Robert Briel
December 10, 2009 07.37 UK

There were just over 26 million IPTV subscribers worldwide at the end of Q2, according to research from Point Topic. The figure represented a 53% increase on that a year earlier.

Growth in many of the early adopter countries, the US, France, Hong Kong for example has been steady rather than spectacular, the real action is starting to take place elsewhere, said John Bosnell, senior analyst at Point Topic.

The number of markets with notable IPTV deployments has quadrupled in the last five years. South America, Eastern and more of Western Europe are coming on stream. In addition, as regulation in some of the more mature markets starts to catch up with the technology, new impetus has been seen in subscriber growth.

In themselves these numbers are pretty impressive, but market growth has not been as rapid as some IPTV evangelists might have hoped for, added Bosnell

Taking market share from other video delivery systems offers a significantly tougher set of challenges than, for example, those faced by broadband which had more straightforward path to market dominance offering a significant set of USPs compared to dial-up internet access.

TV and the delivery of the content is a mature market. There are an entrenched set of suppliers, often fenced with regulatory, even protectionist, hurdles. Add to this the lack of a stand-out USP particularly when compared to cable TV and IPTV is plainly in a tough fight for subscribers, according to Bosnell.

Streaming video also requires bandwidth that is only just becoming available in many markets. Where the delivery and regulation allow however, for example Hong Kong, consumers will sign up to IPTV. In Hong Kong over 50% of PCCWs broadband customers now take an IPTV service.

Its difficult to make direct comparisons between markets. With so many variables in terms of the infrastructure, the existing market, the bundles and content on offer, the various suppliers and the local regulations there will be different take-up rates across the world. Expecting IPTV to grow as rapidly as broadband itself isnt a valid approach. With IPTV its a case of dont believe the hype, but ignore its future at your peril, said Bosnell.