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IPTV only for niche audience, but has a long way to go in India

20-January-2009
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IPTV only for niche audience, but has a long way to go in India

After launching its DTH service in 2008, Bharti Airtel has now announced the launch of its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service, Airtel Digital TV Interactive. The service is already available in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida, commencing the day of the launch (January 19, 2009). It is expected to be launched in other cities soon.

Airtel’s IPTV service offers interactivity, too. For instance, ordering pizzas and movie tickets from one’s TV set, allowing the viewer to pause and rewind live TV as well as auto-record and store favourite programmes for seven days, and even claims a Movie on Demand service with 100 blockbuster titles, which allows access to any movie at any time.

At present, state-owned MTNL and BSNL are the only ones providing IPTV services. Reliance Communications, too, is expected to launch its IPTV service soon.

But is the Indian market ready for this service? What are the opportunities and roadblocks? exchange4media finds out.

According to Anamika Mehta, COO, Lodestar Universal, “The adoption rate of IPTV services in India as of now will not be a rapid one, however, it will see a slow growth rate as IPTV is absolutely niche. One drawback is the low penetration of Internet in India. Interactive services do help in the popularity of a product, however, it depends on how much is the customer willing to adopt it, and that is a challenge.”

Chandradeep Mitra, President, Mudra Max, stated, “IPTV is more niche than DTH, and right now is in testing waters. It would be too early to expect huge numbers, however, it is a great product in terms of interactivity and features, and more supreme in technology. On paper, IPTV is a great product, while globally it has seen limited success, in India, the service has a long way to go.”

“For IPTV to do really well, the service needs to be good and the bandwidth issue needs to be addressed. In fact, the dark horse here I believe is digital cable, if only they put their act together, they can give worthwhile competition,” he pointed out.

So far, IPTV has failed to attract audiences. However, it is seen as an absolute niche market. Media planners believe that IPTV will take few years to come close to the DTH numbers, nevertheless it is far more superior and interactive compared to DTH services. The low broadband penetration acts as a drawback to the growth of this service.

Bharti Airtel Ltd, a group company of Bharti Enterprises, is one of Asia’s leading integrated telecom services providers with operations in India and Sri Lanka, and has an aggregate of over 88 million customers. Bharti Airtel has been voted as India’s most innovative company in a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

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