IPTV is still more promise than payoff for most of the handful of Asian service providers who have deployed it, according to delegates at a forum in Hong Kong.
This year’s IPTV Forum Asia conference focused on recent IPTV rollouts in Japan, South Korea and China. But so far, it’s slow going for all three markets.
Korea’s three IPTV services from KT, SK Broadband and LG Dacom have racked up less than 1.5 million subscribers between them in the last year. In Japan, Hikari TV – the IPTV offering from NTT, the country’s biggest broadband operator – has just 760,000 subscribers, and may hit one million by March. Meanwhile, China had three million IPTV users as of August 2009.
(For comparison purposes, Frost & Sullivan is calling Asia’s IPTV subscriber count at 9.4 million for 2009 – which is 51% higher than last year, and still makes APAC the second-largest IPTV region after Western Europe).
A lot of the barriers remain the same – government regulations and broadcasters/content owners playing hardball have held back IPTV rollouts in plenty of Asian markets until the last 12 months or so.
IPTV is also still plagued by the usual negatives, according to Hee Sul Park, chairman of the policy planning committee for the Korea Digital Media Association – inconsistent QoS, slow channel change and low interactivity (especially compared to marketing).