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Why the world has lost interest in IPTV services

Is it feasible to deliver TV-quality video over IP?

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Another prominent IPTVer told us at last year's IBC conference: "We don't want to deliver content to a PC, because when you do that and it goes wrong, your help desk ends up being a generalised PC help desk."

So here we had a long-term, multi-decade, member of the IPTV community, gleeful at NOT creating a service for two screens, instead of applying innovation to support them both.

If you think about his statement, it's plain wrong. When people use a PC they either have technical support, or develop technical support skills of their own. They either expect service to be self initiated, and self troubleshot, or they have someone standing by who understands PC architectures. They are a okay with a "beta" culture.

Joost, for instance, has an FAQ of reasons why you can't get a picture, and long detailed explanations of how to go about overcoming the various delivery hurdles. There is quite simply no help desk phone number. The same goes for Jalipo and BabelGum.

That IPTV executive was making the mistake of thinking that all video, even new forms of video that no one has pre-set expectations for, should all have the same level of support that IPTV has brought to the table. IPTV has had to fight tooth and claw with satellite and cable, and in order to do that, support has been one of the key fighting skills to differentiate service levels.

Also, the investment for a high quality IPTV service is vast, on both sides. A new MPLS enabled network needs to be built, new IP DSLAMS need to be installed, new middleware needs to be put on new set tops and all of this needs to be paid for before a single person watches TV. In the home someone goes out and buys a $5,000 HD ready flat Plasma or LCD TV screen as well as committing to the $100 a month plus that a basic triple play set up will cost.

For web TV, someone goes to a website and clicks on a box and video streams straight at him, or at worst he or she pays for a cheap monthly subscription before getting streaming video access. So children no longer need to ask for a TV in their bedroom, because they have a PC there already on which to do their homework and if it's internet connected, it can be turned into a TV.

It is this lack of cost and breadth of choice that attracts everyone to web video. And it's the reason why internet video advertising, mostly seen while viewing internet video services, is growing at over 100 per cent per annum, while IPTV is lucky in any given territory to eke out a 20 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate from a very small base.

While the three worlds of pay TV, internet video, and mobile TV could travel along separately, with each person taking what they want from each of them, we don't think this will remain the status quo long term. Because where someone wanted all three classes of services, they would have to spend too much money paying for the same content over and over again, and too much time separately managing them.

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