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IPTV poised to give cable & satellite television a run for their money: US Study

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MUMBAI: The Internet appears to be the threshold of new technology these days, and the future of TV may be in its hands. A recent survey by Harris Interactive conducted among US adults explores consumer awareness and interest in and the potential impact of IPTV, an upcoming digital television service that is delivered through Internet protocol over a broadband connection.

Despite limited availability in the United States, more than half (56%) of all U.S. adults say they have heard of IPTV and substantial numbers indicate interest in adopting it for use on their TVs and home PCs. The survey also shows how the adoption of IPTV may impact cable and satellite providers and the types of providers that may be able to capitalize on this new technology.

These are some of the results of The 2005 Technology Report: Hot Issues Facing the Industry, a study conducted quarterly by Harris Interactive. The most recent study was conducted online from 2 to 8 December 2005 among 1,039 U.S. adults.

The bells and whistles

Many adults expressed a great deal of interest in the interactive features IPTV has to offer, the most popular of which include:

* The ability to save money, since IPTV should be far less costly than cable or satellite (42%)

* The ability to select the time you watch a program (on demand) (33%)

* The ability to receive a broader array of programming content to meet your particular interests (24%)

* High-definition viewing (20%)

* Digital video recording (18%)

* Interactive program guide with navigation and search functions (15%)

Reaching beyond the living room

Though IPTV is still in its infancy, substantial numbers show a great deal of interest in adopting the technology and some say they would sign up and try it immediately if it were available. 26 per cent of adults say they are quite interested in adopting IPTV for use on their TVs, and 19 percent express a lot of interest in adopting IPTV for use on their computers. Four per cent of adults say they would be quite interested in adopting this technology for use on their cell phones.

Twelve percent of adults say they would sign up and try IPTV immediately if it were only available for their PC, and 57 percent say they would wait and see how others like it. Almost one in five (18 per cent) say they would try IPTV immediately if it were available for their PC and could be sent to TV's in their house using a set-top box, and 59 percent said they would wait and see how others like it. Minorities say they would ignore IPTV for their home PC (31 per cent) or their TV (23 per cent) as they are happy with their current service.

Potential impact on cable, satellite and Internet providers

The survey results suggest that the development of IPTV could pose a formidable threat to cable and satellite services. Among those saying they will sign up for IPTV or that they would wait and see how others like it, almost one if five (17 per cent) say they would cancel their existing cable or satellite TV service and go with IPTV, while two-thirds (66 per cent) say they would keep their existing cable or satellite TV service and give IPTV a trial run. Only seven percent say they would keep their existing cable or satellite TV service and add IPTV, and one in 10 (10 per cent) say they don't currently have cable or satellite TV, but would adopt IPTV.

Since IPTV is a new technology that uses the Internet to deliver TV programming, consumers would need to select a provider to deliver this service to their home. Types of providers adults say they would feel most comfortable with delivering IPTV service include:

* A cable company like CableVision or Comcast (33%)

* A new company that has no baggage (25%)

* A technology company like Cisco or Microsoft (15%)

* A telephone provider like Verizon or SBC (13%)

* An Internet provider like AOL or Earthlink (11%)

* A content provider like Disney or CNN (4%)

Technology Research Practice at Harris Interactive vice president and senior consultant Milt Ellis comments: "It's no surprise to find that consumers want to save money on their cable or satellite bill, but the survey results also show that many consumers are quite interested in having access to a broad range of content to watch, at a time they determine. When consumers are able to watch their favorite shows at a time of their own choosing, "prime time" may need redefining, network program schedules may have little meaning, and TV ad rates will have to be recalculated. If and when IPTV becomes a mainstream reality, it could be the best of times for consumers and IPTV providers and challenging times for the networks, as well as cable and satellite providers."

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