IPTV Market Growth

France, Italy and Spain are clearly leading the IPTV race, as shown in a report from Screen Digest.

The report predicts growht of IPTV in Europe to grow from 2.9m in 2006 to 5.6m in 2007 with 1m of these new subscribers coming from France.

The French television market has long been a interesting one - TV viewing is substantial lower than elsewhere in Western Europe largely due to heavy regulation and IPTV is a liberalising force.

The five largest European IPTV operators РTelefónica, Orange, Free Telecom, Neuf Telecom and Fastweb - accounted for 60 per cent of the total IPTV market in five countries at the end of 2006.

But many of the operators are 'cheating'. Services such as BT Vision are hybrids, providing Freeview (DTT) over air and some IPTV content. So, you're paying for a Freeview box (price £30 in a supermarket) and some VoD content.

I'm particularly sceptical about the 300,000 target set by Screen Digest for the UK's three operators - Tiscali, BT and Orange. Home Choice (now Tiscali) took five years to achieve a tenth of this. The main advantage they have is that the digital stack for many incumbents is full. But this is chicken and egg - no channels will pay carriage (or even want to be carried) on a service with fewer than a few hundreds of thousands of potential viewers (especially way down the EPG on those services).

There are certianly countries like those listed above where IPTV may become dominant. I don't think the UK is one of them.