A survey of consumers across the United States and Europe has found that nearly half of them do not understand the term IPTV, which implies that more than half of them claimed they do, although most of them probably do not.

Awareness of internet protocol television was naturally highest in countries where services are gaining acceptance, notably in the US. In the UK, 58% of respondents did not know what IPTV meant, but in each country studied there was a range of definition, with many referring to watching television on a computer or viewing the web on television.

Unsurprisingly, the study from Accenture reveals that that the term “IPTV” has very little meaning for many if not most consumers, and even those who know the term have widely differing views on what it actually stands for, yet there is widespread interest in the types of services it enables.

The study defined IPTV as delivering broadcast-quality digital television and other services over a broadband network using internet technology, a similar broad definition to that originally employed by informitv.

The findings suggest that consumers do not care about the underlying technology and that consequently service providers need to concentrate on features and functions that people understand.

Opinion Research surveyed a representative group of around a thousand consumers in each country: the United States, United Kingdom, France, German, Spain and Italy. The results indicate a substantial market for IPTV services.

When asked what features would make television better, 30% said more movies, while a quarter said the ability to create their own channel to watch programmes whenever they want. There was significantly less interest in receiving more channels, and even less were interested in more opportunities to interact with programmes, mentioned by only 6% of respondents in the UK, which already has a high level of interactive television services.

Asked what benefits would encourage them to subscribe to such a service, many respondents were willing to trade the price of a service against fewer adverts. In the United States 55% said they would be willing to do this, while overall 47% said the ability to choose specialist programmes.

Cost was generally cited as the main barrier to adoption, with 73% of those responding indicating that they would not be prepared to pay an extra fee for an entertainment service that allows them to search for television and radio programmes and music.

“Despite a general lack of understanding about what IPTV means, there is strong consumer interest in the benefits that such a service could bring,” said Ray Dogra, who leads IPTV for the Accenture communications and high technology practice. “Consumers clearly desire choice, control and the ability to personalize their viewing experience–all of which are the key benefits of an IPTV service.”