Just under 20 million homes were subscribing to internet protocol television service operators at the end of last year. That is a third more than the number a year ago, but the growth has been slower than some analysts predicted. Back in 2005 we were reporting consensus estimates of 25 million subscribers globally in 2010, which is still on track, while some were forecasting around 50 or 60 million. As we predicted, the significant growth has been in the number of broadband connected homes.

According to Informa Telecoms and Media, there were 19.96 million IPTV homes at the end of 2008, representing around 3% of the global multichannel television market. Even by the standard of its own past record, growth was steady but not spectacular, registering 7.5 million additional subscribers.

“It is a fair observation that IPTV has not made the sort of inroads into broadband homes which operators might have expected, but it is wrong to declare that the concept is doomed to fail,” said Julian Herbert, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in advance of the IPTV World Forum in London.

“In markets where the bandwidth is available and the marketing and pricing are attractive, IPTV is attracting big volumes of new customers and helping operators to improve retention rates and increase fixed line ARPU,” the average revenue per user. “Look at operators like AT&T — over 800,000 net adds in 2008 — or Free and France Telecom in France, PWCC in Hong Kong or Portugal Telecom. All are growing their market shares strongly in competitive TV markets.”
Meanwhile, the number of broadband fixed network subscriptions has risen to 422 million, up 68 million last year.

Growth has slowed in Western Europe, as broadband penetration has reached over 50% in all but five countries and over 60% in 20 territories.

China passed the United States to become the largest fixed broadband market, with 82 million subscriptions, although that still represents a household penetration of below 20%.

There were 11 million new fibre based subscriptions, now representing over 10% of the market, driven largely by robust growth in the Asia Pacific region which has 9 out of 10 of the largest FTTx operators.