Worldwide IPTV subscribers reach 16 million

During Q3 2008, the total number of IPTV subscribers worldwide grew 10% quarter-on-quarter to over 16 Million, according to the US research firm Dittberner. The best performing operators were France Telecom, Korea Telecom, AT&T, China Telecom and China Netcom, who all exceeded this growth rate.
According to the study, the French market Leader Free, Telefonica, and Hong Kong’s PCCW had lower growth rates. SK Telecom, under fierce competition in Korea, actually saw a decline in subscribers.

France is the country with the most subscribers but has the second highest penetration level of broadband subscribers after Hong Kong. Of the top ten countries, the US has the lowest penetration rate because of cable competition. We might note there are no figures available for actual use of the TV service by Free customers.
The three service providers in France all have taken the approach of deploying home gateways to allow efficient creation of higher revenue services, and Free gives away the service for a limited number of channels.
The success of the leading vendors of COTS IPTV Middleware by active subscriber varies from region to region and depends largely on supplying a single, successful service provider. In the Asia-Pacific region it is UTStarcom with 1,100,000 homes, in EMEA the market leader is Thomson with 1,746,000 subscribers and in North America Microsoft with a total of 980,000.

Microsoft’s North American lead is based largely on supplying AT&T, while Thomson’s success is based on supplying France Telecom. UTStarcom’s success is based largely on being the largest IPTV middleware provider in China, but UTStarcom also has significant success in India. Central and South America has no large telco IPTV deployments, although both UTStarcom and Alcatel-Lucent are supporting trials.

“Internally developed” is still the largest IPTV middleware supplier. France Telecom’s supplier, Thomson is the largest commercial IPTV middleware supplier, followed by UTStarcom, supplier to Softbank, China Telecom and China Netcom, is using Thomson middleware, while Belgacom in Belgium is using Siemens. PCCW, Free, and Neuf Cegetel are using “internally developed” middleware, and Telefonica Espana is using Alcatel-Lucent’s MiTV.

“Although telco IPTV subscribers have doubled over the past year, it is still a small fraction of the overall pay-TV market in most places,” said James Heath, Dittberner’s director of broadband research in a statement. “A notable exception is France, where many of subscribers are taking the free-to-view services. Although there is also Over-the-top TV viewers which might be classified as IPTV subscribers the revenue generated by IPTV is still small in comparison with cable TV and satellite TV.”

The Western Europe Sub-region still leads the IPTV market, but Asia now rivals it in size. A year ago Western Europe had 68% of the global market. Asia’s share will continue to grow and will likely overtake Western Europe in 2008. Japan now has over 10 Million FTTH and FTTB/VDSL subscribers, making it possible to easily deliver high quality interactive TV services. China and Korea will also see their IPTV subscriber base grow rapidly both due to the high number of broadband subscribers and the high bandwidth each are capable of receiving.