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Give people back more time and they will buy your IPTV - Microsoft

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Research conducted by Screen Digest for Microsoft suggests that there is a target audience of around 230 million people that might consider buying into IPTV or another pay TV service in seven top TV countries, and the software giant reckons that 75 million of them say they would switch TV suppliers if they have the right features and channels, especially those features, such as the DVR, which help people get back control of viewing times in their busy lives.

This is not exactly rocket science, but the point of phoning 5,000 TV literate consumers in seven countries is to establish for Microsoft's IPTV operators that dropping price is not the only way to attract customers for their shiny new services. The other options are to make the service work the way consumers like it and to buy in the right content.

On the content side this isn't exactly a secret, given that bartering of live sports rights have formed the basis of pay TV wars for the past 20 years at least.

But it is true that in US surveys, notably those carried out by Parks Associates, the main reason for buying into a triple play bundle has usually involved the saving of $20 or more per month, and that’s perhaps what Microsoft is trying to get away from.

Screen Digest concludes that more than 60 per cent of consumers in seven developed countries would consider switching TV service providers to obtain the features and content they want, at current market prices or higher.

The research was a combination of online and phone surveys of 5,000 "entertainment-oriented" consumers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

An additional 2,000 people were surveyed in urban China and India. When these countries are included, the global audience for advanced TV services increases to 380 million, with 200 million willing to switch and pay for a new TV service if it does the right things. Consumers were also allowed to create their "ideal" TV service from a number of different features.

Consumers are willing to create and pay for lifestyle-based packages, rather than simply price and channels. Those lifestyle packages range from basic TV control and management, to family-oriented packages, to packages that enable communications, commerce and connections between the TV, PC and mobile devices. Over 50 per cent of consumers willing to pay for new TV services said they would like these advanced capabilities beyond basic TV control and management.

The people most likely to switch are those who are time-constrained, with 43 per cent actually watching less TV than the average household. So it’s not the people that already watch an inordinate amount of TV that telcos should target, it's the people that are currently too busy to watch the programs they prefer.

The Screen Digest report also suggests that China and India have the highest percentage of high-potential IPTV households, but the penetration of broadband lines in these two countries as a percentage of total households is too low right now, so Screen Digest suggests that a bundle of TV-plus-phone package, without the internet access is the right way to go in these countries.

Copyright © 2007, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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