Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Free's Numbers Decoded

I have been in touch with Free. They said that its subscriber must be on an unbundled loop in order to get the Free TV service on the TV. What they are providing to all 2.6 million of its subscribers is the ability to watch TV on their PC. Free had 2.1 million unbundled subscribers at the end of 2Q07.

Interpreting Free's numbers has always been a challenge. The number of its IPTV capable subscribers is a shade under the number of unbundled loops, probably around 1.9 million currently. It has not announced the number of subscribers taking paying services, but I expect it is about half a million now.

The 1.9 million number is the number of subscribers capable of watching its TV service. It has never announced the number of subscribers that actually do so. Many other analysts report only Free's paying subscribers. I have always reported the number of TV capable subscribers. The other broadband companies in France plus companies such as Telia Sonera in Sweden and PCCW in Hong Kong also include a basic set of TV channels in their broadband services. The difference is that they do not provide a set-top box unless the subscriber requests it. The Freebox with its IPTV support is provided to every one of Free's broadband subscribers.

No comments: