Satellite has emerged as the new combination for hybrid IPTV receivers, writes Julian Clover
It is something of a curiosity that at the same time as shipments of set-top boxes are falling for the first time in almost a decade, a new box is beginning to emerge. The Screen Digest report (Broadband TV News Wednesday) explained that the reason for the decline is in part down to a saturation of the IPTV market.
Followers of the sector will note that while the managed IPTV services of France, Belgium and Sweden have been popular additions to the multichannel mix, in other markets it doesn’t take long for the saturation point to be reached.
The ‘new’ IPTV is over-the-top, the term has become so blurred anyway, at least that’s what it felt like at IBC. But take a step back and you’ll recall Le Cube. The chic Canal+ set-top has been in the market for the best part of three years, successfully combining satellite delivered linear channels with VOD content. Similar services are available in Scandinavia, Canal Digital now competing with rival Viasat, and Sky expected to launch its Sky Anytime+ before the end of the year.
There is more to come. The past two weeks have seen the announcement of two new platforms. This time using the satellite-IPTV, or perhaps more accurately Broadband TV combination, not as a bolt on to an existing service but on a Greenfield site. The two operators Vodafone Germany and Belgium’s Mobistar might once have considered launching a pure IPTV play. Instead they have gone the way of satellite and an array of channels unlikely to be found elsewhere.
What might have happened if BT had chosen satellite over terrestrial to provide linear channel support for BT Vision.
Cable operators are also running parts of their networks over IP. Monaco Telecom is one we’ve mentioned before, using a Netgem platform to upgrade its ten year old digital infrastructure. The Netgem approach is one that maintains a single look and feel throughout the user interface, even when it comes to YouTube, where a dedicated area has been created.
Despite complaints that the pacification is too rigid you can see why YouView, as we must learn to title Project Canvas, wants to keep a tight reign over its appearance. This is something Freeview and Freesat have never had, though the new Freeview HD now proscribes that its brand appears on the PG,
For the new breed of IPTV providers it’s mix and match. Vodafone’s proposals, which may well be replicated by the company in other markets also have the option to piggy back on analogue cable. A forward thinking company that is betting on its competitors staying where they are.