The IPTV market is growing. Usually associated with user generated content on Web sites such as YouTube, the success of video-on-demand services, such as BBC’s iPlayer and online mini soap operas such as Kate Modern has proven that there is a healthy appetite for viewing video content on computers.
According to research company, Point Topic nearly 15.5 million people now subscribe to IPTV services, with over 8.4 million of those subscribers in Europe.
Studies vary greatly as to the future number of IPTV subscribers worldwide. Informa, estimates that by 2012 there will be 38.4 million subscribers, while iSuppli estimates 100 million. What cannot be argued however, is that IPTV is evolving from broadcasting niche content to becoming a mainstream proposition.
More broadband equals more IPTV
It is no coincidence that this has coincided with the increase in broadband subscribers. Research sponsored by The Broadband Forum and conducted by Point Topic showed how the number of subscriber levels in March 2008 had doubled from a year ago. Worldwide broadband subscriptions have now passed the 370 million mark.
However, one side effect has been the migration of viewers from the main TV in the front room to bedrooms or private studies. Viewers are choosing where and, crucially, when they access programming. The days when 17 million viewers would tune in together and watch Coronation Street at 7.30pm are long gone.
But IPTV no longer needs to be about consuming content on the 17 inch monitor or your laptop. DVR company, TiVo has announced that it will offer its subscribers access to YouTube content on their television sets.
TiVo already has similar partnerships with Amazon, CNET and Break.com. According to TiVo, users have already downloaded 27 million videos from its 60 Internet partners. However, the YouTube deal is TiVo’s first for streaming online content. With 68 million unique users viewing 3.8 billion videos in May alone, the YouTube represents a different proposition for TiVo.
Richard Jukes, Managing Director of Ground Up Media, is unconvinced as to whether there is an audience for watching YouTube on television sets.
"It sounds like a thoroughly misguided exercise to me. This is a perfect example of people misunderstanding the point of online versus broadcast television. At present, TV is TV and online is online. In time online will replace some people’s every day video viewing but right now we’re simply hampered by broadband speeds, media owners freeing up digital rights and consumers becoming more used to consuming this way," said Dukes.
"And why would you want to watch a piece of video on your home TV in full screen that is already woolly when watching it in a small window on your PC? Blow it up to 32 inches and it’s like watching it through a swimming pool. Even the iPlayer can’t provide quality to this standard yet (from their online platform) and that’s as good as it gets."
"Let’s then think about that fact that generally it is teenagers watching this content in their bedrooms and MSN’ing their friends. The television set is completely the wrong place for this," he continued.