Internet TV loved and hated by Asian pay-TV industry

July 28, 2010. More than half Asia's Pay TV operators surveyed in our latest industry survey (54%) already carry High Definition (HD) channels. New technologies such as IPTV and 3D TV are seen as the greatest untapped opportunity "“ and the greatest threat "“ for traditional cable & satellite operators.

With almost all TVs sold soon becoming fully HD-capable, better image quality will no longer be sufficient to entice consumers to purchase, or differentiate one offering from the next. Many companies are turning their attention to new technologies and services. In M-Brain (formerly GIA)’s 2010 Asia-Pacific Pay TV Operators Survey, which polled 35 pay TV operators and platforms across 14 countries, HD TV is reported to be the single biggest technology opportunity for the industry. However other new technologies and services are seen by more industry players as future opportunities that will shape the industry.

Which of these new content formats/services do you already provide?

HD and IPTV chart_2_1

Source: 2010 Asia-Pacific pay-TV operators survey (M-Brain (formerly GIA), ContentAsia)


Once HD TV is fully established as the norm, other new technologies including video-on-demand, 3D TV, direct-to-home (DTH), Internet protocol TV (IPTV) and new platforms are the areas that the industry is looking towards for future subscriber growth and greater revenues.

About a third of the Asia-Pacific region’s pay TV operators currently provide IPTV services, and this is also the technology that is seen as the greatest future opportunity, aside from HD, with a further third of the operators anticipating potential future subscriber demand for TV delivered over the Internet.

IPTV is as much of a threat to some operators as it is an opportunity. Almost one in three operators polled said they see TV, movie and video content distributed over the Internet ““ whether legally or illegally ““ as a threat to their future success. This is a view held mainly by cable operators, especially those with analogue infrastructure, as it allows relatively new to the game telecommunication companies to play in the pay TV space and compete with the incumbent players on a canted field. The telcos have the advantage of a pre-existing infrastructure and with little additional capital expenditure required can focus their efforts and their budgets on content acquisition, sales and marketing.

Piracy remains a key concern, especially in developing Southeast Asian markets. Efforts to curb unauthorized viewing have been increasingly successful in recent years, and now need to continue if the benefits to the industry and ultimately to viewers and advertisers are to be fully realized.

Having appeared to have generated a lot of interest in the industry and indeed a certain number of investment dollars, gaming delivered over pay TV platforms, and mobile TV are both starting to look like something of a busted flush. Less than one in five operators see gaming as an area of future opportunity, and the jury is still out on mobile TV, with opinion split on the future opportunity and many operators just not knowing whether there is revenue potential there or not. While operators with carefully considered mobile strategies that tie into a wider digital offering may be generating money, 42% of the operators polled are unsure of the potential. As for gaming, the titles and quality available across pay TV systems simply do not compete with those on dedicated consoles or PC platforms. A gaming suite is now more of a hygiene factor than a selling point.

In cooperation with ContentAsia, the survey polled senior managers at 35 operators in 14 countries across the region. The objectives of the survey were to take the temperature of the pay TV industry at a time of enormous change, and to offer objective insights into the mindsets of the people and companies that have the biggest influence on TV channels’ businesses today ““ the region’s pay-TV operators.

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