Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Liberty Global Interview

Light Reading has published an interview with Liberty Global that discusses the advantages of cable over IPTV in the European context. It sees that DOCSIS 3.0 gives it a large advantage over ADSL technology along with its long experience delivering video content.

These are good points but IPTV is giving cable a real run for its money in countries such as France and Belgium. IPTV is in a much stronger position in Europe than it is in most parts of the U.S.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chunghwa Telecom Added 85K Subscribers in 4Q08

Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan added 85,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the quarter with 676,000 subscribers. It came quite close to meeting its revised target of 700,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. It reported that then number of subscribers to its Golden TV premium package grew from 12,804 at the end of 2007 to 117,822 at the end of 2008.

Chunghwa added 123.9 fiber subscribers giving it a total of 1,069,700 fiber subscribers at the end of 2008. It provides fibers services to 16,600 buildings, which it said represents 91 percent market share among all operators. The company expects that it will have more fiber than ADSL subscribers in 2011.

Chunghwa continues to make steady progress with both its IPTV and fiber services.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Impact of the Lack of IPTV Standards

Light Reading published an article describing the discussion at an IPTV World Forum panel discussion. The panelists said that the lack of IPTV standards is holding back investment in IPTV technology. They also said that there are tremendous opportunities for interactive advertising opportunities in IPTV if the industry would broadly support open standards.

This is an interesting perspective. The key is the middleware software, which is quite fragmented. Microsoft, Thomson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens, Cascade, and Minerva all have a significant share of this market. There is no commonality between them which has created a fragmented market. It is hard to see how a single market based on open standards will be created out of this. This may well be the Achilles heel that will cause over the to Internet delivered TV predominate in the end.

City Telecom at 170K IPTV Subscribers

City Telecom who operates the Hong Kong Broadband service ended February 2008 with 170,000 IPTV subscribers. This is an increase of 14,000 subscribers over the previous six months. It also had 350,000 broadband subscribers, and increase of 34,000 over the same period.

City Telecom is continuing to increase its IPTV base but still has a penetration rate less than 50 percent.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Global IPTV Subscribers Reaches 21.8M

The Broadband Forum made a press release based on numbers from Point Topic that stated that there were 21.8 million IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. This broke down by region as follows:

Region 2007 Q4 2008 Q4
Western Europe 7,045,860 10,388,000
North America 1,774,671 3,835,544
South & East Asia 1,840,000 3,615,000
Asia-Pacific 2,199,828 3,082,182
Eastern Europe 465,223 884,466
Latin America 8,991 21,495
Middle East & Africa 10,000 10,000
Global Total 13,344,573 21,836,687

These numbers show that IPTV subscribers have stopped doubling each year globally. The more mature markets are singing a significant fall off in growth rates.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alice Brings Free up to 3.3M IPTV-Capable Subscribers

Free released an analysis of its 2008 results that stated that it has 423,868 unbundled subscribers as part of the business that it acquired from Alice, France. All of these subscribers can get free IPTV channels as part of their broadband service, assuming that they have an appropriate set-top box. Adding these Alice unbundled subscribers to Free's 2.900,000 unbundled subscribers give the company a total of 3,323,868 unbundled subscribers.

All of the Free unbundled subscribers have a set-top box that can receive its IPTV service. Free recently made a similar set-top box available to its Alice subscribers.

It is always interesting counting IPTV subscribers for Free. I think it is fair to count all of Free's 2.9M unbundled subscribers. How to handle the Alice unbundled subscribers is less clear. Today, I would split the difference. In another couple of years, I would count all of them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

IPTV Services Highly Concentrated

I just completed a short analysis based on the 4Q08 results that I have gathered so far. I have identified over 700 carriers globally with some level of IPTV activity. About 340 are in North America with 180 in Europe and 100 in Asia.

I estimate that there are more than 20 million IPTV subscribers globally and five carriers have more than one million IPTV subscribers each:
  1. Free in France
  2. Verizon in the U.S.
  3. China Telecom
  4. France Telecom
  5. AT&T in the U.S.
These top 5 companies account for more than 40 percent of the total subscribers. The top 20 service providers account for 80 percent of the total and the top 50 account for 95 percent of the subscribers.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Swisscom Adds 23K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Swisscom added 23,000 new IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the year with 118,000. The company had $US 129M in IPTV revenue in 2008.

Swisscom had a good year with its IPTV service in a competitive IPTV market. Its new fiber deployment should enhance its position nicely.

Belgacom Adds 63K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Belgacom added 63,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, giving it a total of 506,000 at the end of 2008. It stated that it had a 30 percent share of the Pay TV market at the end of 2008. It now supports a second TV in the home using VDSL. There were 65,000 customers with a second TV at the end of the year. It IPTV ARPU grew to 17.2 euros during 2008 largely through the improved success of on demand services. Its total IPTV revenue grew to 86M euros in 2008.

Belgacom offers HD services using VDSL, which is available to 64 percent of the Belgian population. The ADSL-based IPTV service is available to 86 percent of the Belgian population.

Belgacom is making good progress and is showing how other operators in Europe can succeed in a cable-dominated market.

BBC Canvas to Compete with BT Vision IPTV

The BBC is considering its Canvas Project that will compete with BT's BT Vision IPTV service.

The BBC is seeking permission to form a new joint venture partnership with other broadcasters and Internet Service Providers to define and promote a set of standards for digital television delivered via broadband Internet connections (IPTV) as well as digital broadcasts via DSat and DTT.

Users would need to buy a new set top box or other device which takes its broadcast signal from an aerial, like Freeview, or from a satellite dish, like Freesat.

Canvas users would also require a broadband connection to take advantage of on-demand features. They would need to:
  • Subscribe to a broadband service which usually carries a monthly fee, or
  • Utilise their existing broadband connection. It is possible they may need to
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to a faster connection, or
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to one which allows greater volumes of data downloads
The BBC said that Canvas would help protect the competitiveness of free-to-air platforms (like Freeview) and allow audiences who do not wish to pay for subscription television services to access a range of on-demand and linear services.

It wishes to develop Canvas in conjunction with the planned launch of HD services on the DTT platform (Freeview). Subject to approval, Canvas would launch at some point in 2010.

This is an interesting approach by a broadcaster to utilize broadband to reach its audience in addition to its over the air broadcasting. It looks very much like BT Vision to me. I wonder how BT will survive with this kind of competition from the broadcaster. This is a model that could be exported to other countries and create a new competitor to the existing Pay TV outlets.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Deutsche Telekom Adds 20K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Deutsche Telekom reported that the number of Entertain IPTV lines activated climbed to around 353,000 by the end of 2008. The number of orders received up to this point in time were around 480,000. This was an increase in the number of IPTV subscribers of 20,000 in 4Q08.

It looks like Deutsche Telekom missed its goal of 500,000 IPTV subscribers by the end of 2008 by a large margin. The company seems to be struggling with creating a winning formula for the service.

Telecom Itallia Adds 111K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Telecom Italia added 111,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, giving a total of 329,000 at the end of 2008. It was able to achieve its objective of 300,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. Its IPTV service has now achieved a penetration of 4.9 percent of its broadband customers.

Telecom had a great fourth quarter. Let's see if it can keep up the pace.