Broadband video service BT Vision has defended its customer numbers, claiming it is ahead of schedule in acquisitions. Meanwhile, Tiscali TV has actually lost customers since it bought the HomeChoice service from Video Networks. Nevertheless, one research firm is now forecasting over 70 million IPTV subscribers worldwide in 2011.

BT Vision contacted informitv to say that its public target was still 100,000 customers by the end of 2007 and it is actually ahead of schedule. BT says it has already signed up 100,000 customers, although according to the most recent figures it has only 70,000 installations. It is currently adding over 5,000 customers a week, so it could indeed reach 100,000 by the end of the year.

BT originally said it would have be “initially connecting thousands of customers then hundreds of thousands by the end of 2007”.

“I know the original release talked about ‘hundreds of thousands’,” a BT representative told informitv, “but we meant ‘a number in the hundreds of thousands'”. By that they apparently meant a number greater than a hundred thousand.

BT Vision has re-iterated its target of 2-3 million customers in the medium term, which it defines as “3-5 years from December 2006”. So that is at least 2 million customers by the end of 2011. We make that over nine thousand net new customers a week for four years. To achieve three million customers in the next two years would require over 27,000 new customers a week. That does not take into account customer churn, which is likely to see at least 10% of these customers leaving every year.

Meanwhile Tiscali TV appears to have actually lost customers. When Tiscali acquired the Video Networks Homechoice service in August 2006 for £100 million it had 45,000 customers. In its latest figures, Tiscali TV reported having only 36,000 customers at the end of October 2007, despite extending its network to be able to reach over five million homes in the UK.

Tiscali has been migrating customers onto its own local loop unbundled network. The company says it is registering 250 new activations per day. The number of television customers still remains a small fraction of its broadband customer base, which now stands at over two million.

Elsewhere, research company MRG has revised its global forecast of IPTV subscribers upwards.

Len Feldman, director of IPTV analysis at MRG has substantially increased their global subscriber forecast for 2011, from 63.6 million to 72.6 million, “in large part because we’re considerably more optimistic about the probability for market success in China, India and Korea”.

“Europe will remain the number one IPTV market in terms of subscriber count through 2011, but Asia is catching up quickly and will most likely surpass Europe in 2012-2013,” he added. “In North America, Verizon and AT&T are growing considerably faster than we previously forecasted, and we expect Verizon to be the world’s largest IPTV service provider in 2011.”