The number of subscribers to broadband television services in Europe will double this year and rise to over four million by 2008, according to Screen Digest.

IPTV or internet protocol television delivered over broadband networks currently has extremely limited penetration in Europe at just 0.2 per cent of television homes.

However, around 340,000 new subscribers are expected to have signed up in 2004, and the number is predicted to double next year.

By the end of 2008 there will be over 4.4 million IPTV homes in Europe, accounting for nearly five percent of the total number of pay television subscribers.

In Italy the Fastweb network has emerged as the Continent’s number one ADSL video service.

Meanwhile, prospects for pay television operators are back on track, with predictions of 94.4 million subscribers in Europe by 2008, according to the report on European Digital Pay TV Platforms.

“The traditional pay television industry has been given a call to arms by the market entry of telecoms operators eager to exploit IPTV technology,” said Guy Bisson, senior analyst at Screen Digest.

“Services that have been talked about for years – like video-on-demand – are finally a reality, and from a consumer’s perspective, there has never before been so much choice in terms of consuming television content. The flurry of activity in the last 18 months has had a positive impact on the pay television industry Europe-wide. Add in growing momentum for a switch to digital and you have all the elements needed for a new era of growth for the pay television industry.”