Parks Associates Blog

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thoughts in the IPTV World Forum

While I'm sitting at Heathrow waiting to catch our flight to Nice for the CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit on Tuesday, I have some time to share some thoughts on the IPTV World Forum, which we attended this past week.

I was struck in my conversations with the resounding theme that many operators have really stuck to a "walk-before-you-can-run" approach when it comes to IPTV services, and that mentality also seemed to apply in the presentations that I heard. I shared a lunch table with a vendor and a fellow analyst one day, and they mentioned that some of the prevelant themes from the past (like FMC and IMS) were not quite as evident in this year's conference. Instead, I heard more about how interactive services can be better promoted and how home networking is helping the operators not only reduce costs (by reducing the need for new wiring installations between the modem and the set-top box) but also differentiate with services such as multi-room DVR. Franz Kurath, the Executive Director for Broadband Content at AT&T, spoke about their Total Home DVR feature, which is now available free of charge to all subscribers.

So, what are the "running" features for IPTV? I am really intrigued by the variety of solutions out there for generating recommendations (companies like Neptuny, CID with myLOBster, ThinkAnalytics, and Miniweb Interactive). Paul Berriman, the Chief Technology Officer for PCCW, gave out a statistic that points to the need for better optimization of interactive services and advertising revenues. He said that only 10% of PCCW's revenues are coming from video (although they keep a healthy ARPU in broadband), and only 10% of video revenues are generated by interactive services and advertising. I'll be interested to see some ROI analysis that comes from the recommendation companies.

Two other major sitings at the show were widgets and social networking (combined in many cases). It's clear that Facebook is coming to the TV screen sooner rather than later, and there were companies showing how things like recommendations and ratings could be applied to television services.

And, then there's the connected home aspect. I heard from vendors that DLNA is at least being asked about by the operators, if not yet fully requested in set-top boxes. It's evident that the underlying connectivity features of DLNA will be important for operators and their CPE vendors to consider as they seek to provide subscribers with interesting digital media access and sharing capabilities.

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