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European IPTV boom fizzles out as France levels off, Eastern Europe slows

The European IPTV boom led by France has levelled off, and the continent is set to lose its position to Asia during 2011 with a surge in China and India. The big European markets for IPTV, notably France, have become saturated, while in the emerging economies of Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic states, Turkey and Russia, poor infrastructure and lack of investment in fiber has held back IPTV deployment.

Europe was still well ahead of Asia at the end of the third quarter of 2010, with 46.3 percent of the world’s 41,892,171 IPTV subscribers, or 19,396,075, with France accounting for about half of that at just less than 10 million, according to the Broadband Forum. French IPTV subscriber numbers grew from around 7 million to 9 million between Q1 2009 and Q1 2010, but at last the long-sustained growth seemed to be slowing down by the end of the year as the pay TV market as a whole became more saturated.

Elsewhere in Western Europe, IPTV also advanced, with Germany providing about 1.8 million subscriptions and Italy and Spain close to 2 million each by the end of 2010. The one disappointing IPTV market among the major countries has been the UK, where the leading IPTV service provider, BT Vision, had about 500,000 subscribers by year’s end. This is partly because BT Vision is a hybrid service that relies on digital terrestrial for broadcast services and partly because it faces strong satellite and cable competition, from BSkyB and Virgin Media, respectively.

Given all these factors, Europe will soon be overtaken by Asia, while France will lose its top spot to China sometime during 2011 or 2012.