Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Asia-Pac IPTV subs to hit 9.4 million this year; 37.6 percent of global subs

MALAYSIA: The Asia-Pacific IPTV subscriber base is expected to grow by 51 percent in 2009 to close at 9.4 million users and account for 37.6 percent of the global subscribers.

According to Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Adeel Najam, the region has seen rapid uptake of IPTV services, clocking year-on-year subscriber growth rates of over 60 percent annually for the last three years. He expects Asia-Pac to be the second largest IPTV market in the world by the end of this year; a very close second after Western Europe, which is the oldest IPTV market, housing 38.3 percent of the world’s subscription.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Asia-Pacific IPTV Update, finds that the IPTV subscriber base in the region - covering 14 Asia-Pac countries including Japan - will grow at a CAGR of 24.6 percent annually between 2009 and 2014, soaring to an estimated 23.5 million subscribers by end-2014.

In 2008, only eight Asia-Pac nations had commercial IPTV offerings - China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, India - and subscribers stood at 6.27 million; while Vietnam launched IPTV services in late 2009.

After some delays, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand are all expected to roll-out IPTV services in the next 12 months, with the Philippines last on the bandwagon in 2011.

Apart from Hong Kong (where IPTV is the foremost pay TV platform with a 54 percent market share in 2008), Taiwan, South Korea (predominantly video-on-demand services), Singapore and China, IPTV has so far made tepid in-roads as a major pay TV service elsewhere in the region.

Najam however expects IPTV to gather steam as high-speed broadband projects materialise and operators push ahead to offer multi-play services to make good their costly fibre investments. “After fibre deployments, service providers must offer services like IPTV to maximize revenue potential and return on investments,” he says.

The key considerations for IPTV’s success, he says, are broadband penetration levels and low pay TV presence. As such, Najam believes that as much as 62 percent of the IPTV subscriber net additions from now till 2014 will come from emerging markets like China, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Thailand and the Philippines, where other pay TV players such as cable operators have yet to make a significant impact. Adoption in these countries however will be restricted to urban areas where high-speed
broadband networks are present.

“Another perennial critical determinant is, of course, content,” Najam continues. He attributes Hong Kong’s PCCW’s success of its ‘now TV’ service - the world’s fifth largest IPTV operator and the SAR’s leading pay TV service provider - in no small part, to the right mix of premium and local content.

“With the right content strategy, PCCW not only managed to capture more than 30 percent of Hong Kong’s highly competitive pay TV market within the first two years, but has now tripled its average per user revenue and kept subscriber churn to under one percent,” says Najam.

“Exclusive content, wherever local regulations permit, will give operators a leg up in the game,” he adds. Citing SingTel’s recent win for sole broadcast rights to three seasons of EPL, “The exclusivity deal may not be enough to topple Singapore’s dominant cable TV operator, StarHub, anytime soon, but it clearly gives SingTel a skin in the game and is likely to earn the telco a respectable number of IPTV subscribers,” Najam concludes.

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