Asia to lead IPTV surge


BRUSSELS -- The number of IPTV subscribers worldwide will reach 103 million in 2011, with the surge being led by the Asia-Pacific region, according to research group RNCOS.

Europe's IPTV subscriber base is the world's largest and most active market and more than doubled from 2006 to 2007 to reach 1.9 million, the report says. And on a per-user basis, the Americas and western Europe are expected to be the biggest markets by revenue in three years time.

However, both markets will be surpassed by the Asia-Pacific region in 2011, the year that global subscriptions take a dramatic upwards leap, the report says.

The major growth of IPTV households will be through broadband connections. Broadband subscriber numbers are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 91% between 2006 and 2011 in the Asia-Pacific region, the report says.

The report says an unexpected huge growth opportunity for the broadband sector will come from India and China's rural areas. But it adds that the lack of sufficient bandwidth and highly skewed broadband distribution are major inhibitors for IPTV: while Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Japan are mature broadband markets, China, India and Malaysia currently have dismally low broadband penetration.

Despite high expectations for IPTV, the report warns that service providers still face a strong challenge in procuring quality and regional content, and will have to catch up with cable and satellite operators.

The RNCOS report comes two months after another research group, Informa Telecoms & Media, forecast worldwide IPTV subscriber numbers at a fraction of that number. Informa's more modest prediction said there would be 38.4 million global IPTV subscribers by 2012, generating $14.7 billion annually.