KPN TV plans Multiscreen future

By Robert Briel
June 1, 2010 16.43 UK

Dutch incumbent KPN has added 36,000 new IPTV customers since the launch of its marketing push for their Interactieve TV service. The total number of subscribers is now 150,000.

For next year, KPN plans to roll out a multiscreen service, said Marco Visser, director consumer marketing at KPN, speaking at a press conference, “this will include TV to Pc as well as TV on the mobile over our HSDPA network.” He gave no further details of the future service, “this will have to wait till we actually roll out the products,” he said.

At the moment, KPN also operates a DVB-H multiplex, which has attracted “tens of thousands of subscribers.” The future of the service is uncertain, as there are very few handsets available with DVB-H tuners. “We have yet to make a decision on the future of the network.”

KPN’s current big marketing push for their IPTV services is concentrating on three major selling points: pausing live TV, providing catch-up TV services and a wide VOD offer. The latter is provided by Videoland, who offers around 1,500 titles. Mainly movies, but according to Videoland CEO Co Mast there will also be a choice of “documentaries and music specials, and perhaps some games in the future.”

KPN entered the TV market 5 years ago when it acquired full control of the DTT service Digitenne. The operator now claims over 1 million customers to the service, which it positions as a low cost alternative to cable. “Before we came along, people just had one choice, their local cable provider,” said Visser, “now we have a market share of 14%.”

The IPTV service ha s been around for a couple of years, but KPN only recently started pushing the service after having upgraded their entire network. At the moment, about 80% of the Dutch population is within potential reach of the service.

Subscribers to KPN Interactieve TV pay an additional EUR 9.95 per month to have access to the basic TV bouquet on top of their Internet access. Additional tiers are available, including an HD option with 14 HD channels.

Our take. During the past five years, KPN has been very successful luring cable customers away with their low cost Digitenne option. As a result, most cablers found their penetration rate drop below 80%. But is was mainly the low-tier customers defecting cable.

With the IPTV service, the operator now hopes to attract higher value customers, but the question is if there is still a window of opportunity. The two major Dutch cable operators, UPC and Ziggo, are aggressively rolling out their advanced TV services including PVR, HD, catch-up and various on-demand services (both subscription and transactional). They also offer a wider choice of channels including the national BBC channels, to which KPN has (as yet) no access.

KPN positions their PTV offer as the best value for the main living room and almost gives away their DTT service for second and third TV sets in the home. For some reason, the operator has not introduced hybrid set-tops, which could offer a mix of DTT and IPTV with a single User Interface.

There is also no sign of a box that would offer OTT services over the broadband access. They should be working on such a proposition, as the all-singing and all-dancing box promised by Liberty Global’s Mike Fries for UPC customers will put the cable operator miles ahead in offering advanced TV services.