The power of producing and distributing content no longer belongs solely to studios and technology vendors — it has shifted to the consumer and consumer communities that produce, utilise and interact with the large volumes of content available today, according to a release issued by IP content delivery solution provider BitBand.
Analysts predict around 50 million IPTV subscribers worldwide by 2010, says BitBand. As viewing habits evolve from a passive consumption of TV to an interactive user experience, IPTV service providers need to quickly recognize and exploit the market opportunities that lie ahead.
BitBand expects to see the following key trends in IPTV in 2008:
- Eastern Europe as an emerging market. With quad and triple-play heavily embraced by new players implementing technology and business lessons learned in Western Europe, carriers and service providers in the region will take advantage of the industry's accumulated expertise and skip efforts to modernize legacy equipment or infrastructures suitable for IPTV delivery.
- HDTV is on the rise and shifting from early adopters to mainstream viewers, creating strong demand for the highest level of subscriber quality of experience (QOE). Technology has to be developed to ensure the QOE levels that now become mandatory.
- Networking in the home. Technology advancements in consumer premises equipment and the IPTV supply chain in general will enable increased connectivity between the various components in the home, targeting the enhanced digital lifestyle with such services as instant messaging and progressive download. Through a combination of the service provider and home networks, a small server residing in the house will provide content services to a variety of devices within or around the premises, over a variety of wired and wireless networks.
- Niche content is king and long-tail content is becoming a reality. Service providers will be required to make accessible huge volumes of content, while employing intuitive and simple access methods. The full content life cycle will need to be managed in a flexible way, making room for innovative CDN platforms — a key factor in the success of IPTV services.
- Support for multiple viewing platforms. Consumer mobility drives the need to support a variety of end devices (terminals) to which the content is fed. Users' viewing experiences should be automatically adapted for the different devices and networks so that the best experience on each device is guaranteed. Remaining issues to be resolved include the size of video data and content rights.
- New entrants create segmented markets. More alternative service providers are offering IPTV services, opening up the market and driving growth and competition. Traditional communications players will be forced to present a differentiated offer, either through the introduction of new value-added services or competitively priced entertainment packages.
- User-generated content. TV "of the people, for the people" will continue to grow in popularity. Users are driving content and will want to incorporate that content as part of their traditional TV experience.
- TV and Internet will continue to merge. The drive to turn the TV into an Internet-capable device is likely to continue, despite the failure of many prior attempts. The key drivers to success are simplicity of access and emphasis on the group experience of TV consumption.
- Advertising will drive revenue. Targeted advertising is another phenomenon making its way from the Internet to the IPTV experience, providing another tool for revenue generation and subscriber retention.
- The shift to On-Demand. The trend of increased migration of TV consumption from linear to non-linear TV (TV On-Demand) will pick up pace, driven by innovative new ways of serving TV in a time-shifted manner and excess bandwidth available in the Next Generation networks. We expect significant increase in concurrent viewers of such services.
- Beijing 2008. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be the dominant driver for IPTV expansion and adoption across China. Beijing's efforts to leverage this event for the world stage, coupled with the desire of service providers across the globe to deliver Olympic events to subscribers in all forms and on all devices will prompt service innovation, technology development and regulation flexibility, speeding up the pace of change and stimulating even more progress in the IPTV space.
BitBand's IPTV technology serves more than 40 commercial IPTV deployments worldwide, including such pioneering IPTV deployments as Tele2 in the Netherlands, ON Telecoms in Greece, FASTWEB in Italy and Connexion in the United States, among others. BitBand partners with system integrators and suppliers of other components in the IPTV value chain to provide operators with a complete end-to-end solution.