FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The number of Internet TV subscribers more than doubled in 2007 to 12.3 million worldwide, driven by western Europe where some broadband suppliers offered the service for free, according to a report.
Western Europe, led by France, accounted for 57 percent of global IPTV subscribers, research firm Informa Telecoms & Media said in a report published on Tuesday.
Traditional telecom providers are seeking new revenue streams to compensate for declining sales of fixed-line connections for voice calls, and IPTV is a promising new area, especially for state incumbents with extensive networks.
Informa said France Telecom, Iliad’s Free, Neuf and Telecom Italia’s Alice had attracted more than 5 million IPTV subscribers between them in France by bundling the service free with broadband offers.
A large number of those subscribers may not be paying for additional content, however, Informa said.
“2007 was a watershed year for IPTV as many western European telcos launched full packages,” the report said, adding that IPTV was still in its first phase of rollout and growth.
“It will be interesting to note their approach to IPTV in the future: whether it is used to increase customer loyalty or whether it is a genuine money-making stand-alone service.”
China now has about 1 million IPTV subscribers and Hong Kong already had 1 million in September, making it the world’s most mature IPTV market with 60 percent of DSL broadband customers subscribing for TV over the Web, Informa said.
Informa also said the United States added more than 1 million customers in 2007, largely thanks to fiber-to-the-home rollouts by Verizon and AT&T. fiber-to-the-home delivers faster connections than regular broadband.
In Germany and France, Deutsche Telekom and BT more than doubled their subscriber numbers to reach more than 100,000 each.
Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mike Elliott
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