Is IPTV the Next Killer App?
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Forget the niche, Internet Protocol-based television (IPTV) is ready to go mainstream, generating up to $55 billion in revenue over the next four years alone.
At least that's the opinion of Washington telecom and technology think tank New Millennium Research Council (NMRC).
In a new report published Wednesday, the NMRC said, "IPTV is realizing its potential as a viable programming platform that can compete with cable, satellite and other traditional video mediums."
When? The report claims in the "very near term."
Further juicing the potential market, cable and telephone companies are preparing to deliver video programming over their own IP networks.
According to the report, the immediate growth of IPTV will not be driven by a replacement for traditional television but as a customized platform focusing on the needs of professional groups and organizations.
"In general, IPTV allows consumers not only to customize their video programming experience, IPTV also empowers organizations of all types to directly and more inexpensively access new and/or targeted global audiences," the report states.
Joseph Fergus, CEO of ComTek Technologies, said in a teleconference promoting the NMRC report, that the immediate future of IPTV is about targeting three groups: highly mobile professionals, state and local governments and non-profit organizations.
Without an IPTV platform, he said, "They could not otherwise afford a channel. IPTV is such a big part of our future."
In April, ComTek broadcast what was touted as the single largest application of two-way IPTV ever attempted, piping an Earth Day program into more than 16,000 high school and college science classrooms.
Allen Hepner, executive director of the NMRC, said because of the low cost of making video for the Internet, "Almost everyone can produce a television program."
"This new programming vehicle, allowing organizations and individuals to transmit their messages to an audience of their choice, could be the 'killer application' that experts agree is needed to catapult IPTV to equal footing with traditional television," the report states.
Adding to the promise of IPTV is the fact that since it is IP-based, IPTV can be transmitted over broadband networks and accessed by consumers through a number of different devices.
And, the report notes, it helps to be young:
"The strongest market potential for IPTV is among younger consumers. Awareness of IPTV is directly related to age, with younger respondents indicating a higher level of knowledge about online video services."
A study in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain found that approximately 70 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 25-34 were aware of IPTV. NMRC cites an Accenture survey examining IPTV attitudes for the figures.
On the other hand, less than half of those surveyed over the age of 55 were aware of IPTV.
Most notably, the report states, "Age was also a factor when considering the willingness to pay extra for IPTV services. Although 73 percent of respondents were not very willing or not at all willing to pay extra, younger respondents had a higher acceptance of IPTV costs."
The NMRC report also points out that many of the early obstacles to a successful rollout of IPTV are being overcome, particularly quality transmission.
"Networks now have sufficient capacity to deliver video and in-home devices (set top boxes and computers) can present the programming in easy-to-use formats," the report states. "By leaping over traditional video transport systems, IPTV avoids many of the regulatory and technical pitfalls that exist in traditional television."