WHAT IS IPTV
IPTV is multi-channel, internet protocol television which can facilitate the delivery of multi-definition content via a broadband connection.
Instead of a signal being transmitted via satellite, cable, or terrestrial routes, the IPTV signal is transmitted through a telephone (or cable) line, to a PC, IP set-top box, or other form of compatible media (such as a mobile telephone, or gaming console).
Microsoft’s Windows Media 9 codec already allows IPTV streaming on approximately 97% of computers around the world, with no additional software requirements. Set-top boxes that are WMV9 enabled are fast becoming IP standard, permitting the viewer to watch IPTV channels on a television set by simply plugging into a broadband connection (recommended at 1MB plus).
The increase and facilitation of broadband services is another key factor, as the following figures indicate:
- Recent international broadband statistics* state that there has been a 24% increase in broadband users between June 2006 (178 million) and June 2007 (221 million).
- The USA is currently the largest broadband market, with 66.2 million users (representing 30% of the total figure from the OECD).
- Current UK figures from the Broadband Stakeholder Group state that 99.6% of the UK is capable of 2-10mg of broadband and, whilst the UK has the highest broadband availability, there is currently only a 52% take up (although this is increasing in advance of the digital switchover).
- With specific reference to IPTV, analyst company Canalys indicates 39.6 million worldwide subscribers by the end of 2010. This will be a tenfold increase, growing from fewer than 4 million in 2006. These figures provide a positive indication in relation to IPTV development as a majority broadcast system.
IPTV in media and business:
Michael O’Hara, general manager of Microsoft communications, is quoted as saying (of IPTV); “The transformation of the media and entertainment industry and the introduction of a new digital supply chain make powerful software platforms and solutions essential to the success of media businesses.” **
The impact of IPTV on media businesses, such as the entertainment, music, sport and publishing industries, is obvious. Indeed, in the light of such developments, Warner Brothers now estimate that the lifespan of DVDs is coming to an end. However, IPTV is also a highly lucrative option for companies and individuals in the retail and even property trades. In fact, the accessibility and appeal of IPTV is so comprehensive and inclusive, that practically any individual and/or organisation can now broadcast their own channel, whether it be niche/community and/or conventional/global.
Perhaps the most notable effect of IPTV will be within the advertising industry. Currently, streamed and/or downloaded content is exempt from certain regulations and this means that IPTV facilitates targeted advertising and specific product placement. As IPTV offers a multitude of niche, specialist and community options, the potential for such advertising revenue is undeniably significant.
To quote Bill Gates; “We predicted at the beginning of the decade that this would be the decade that the digital approach would be taken for granted … now, there’s a generation that can go even further as we get more video-on-demand capability and literally anybody can watch any show at any time, even the ads can be targeted to you. We call that IPTV.” 3