& cplSiteName &

PCCW: IPTV Demands Innovation

Ray Le Maistre

SINGAPORE -- IPTV World Forum Asia -- IPTV service providers need to focus on service and marketing innovation if they're to prevent their broadband content service becoming stale and uninteresting, Ted Hsiung, head of business development at Hong Kong carrier PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), told attendees here today.

During a presentation Thursday, the executive said competition from other TV providers and network operators - plus consumers' constant demand for new content - means IPTV players need to continually refresh their service offerings, in terms of how services are packaged and presented. And they must make use of the latest technology, in order to expand their subscriber bases and generate increasing average revenue per user (ARPU) numbers.

"IPTV is a defensive play for most telcos, but this can be made into an attacking play through innovation," Hsiung said.

Innovation involves risk-taking, of course. Appropriately, the Hong Kong carrier launched its IPTV strategy with a gamble back in 2003, providing broadband customers with a free set-top box and a free basic set of 23 TV channels as a starter pack.

That gamble paid off. PCCW quickly grew its Now TV user base -- by the end of 2004 it already had 416,000 customers for the TV-over-broadband service -- and that attracted more content owners, increased broadband service uptake, and reduced broadband churn by half to less than 1 percent, Hsiung said. PCCW now delivers more than 160 channels to its customers over VDSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connections.

The carrier, one of the biggest IPTV operators in the world, also developed its own content protection platform that, unlike other digital rights management (DRM) and conditional access (CA) technologies, is housed in PCCW's local exchange infrastructure, and not in the customer's set-top box. That way, stated Hsiung, PCCW can guarantee content owners that only the right customers are accessing their content. PCCW brags that piracy is nonexistent on its network. (See Top Ten: IPTV Carriers.)

PCCW also turned its attention to service innovation, looking well beyond the technical capabilities of personal video recorder (PVR) and video-on-demand (VoD) applications. The carrier focused on securing some unique content -- namely, English Premiership soccer -- and developed some IPTV channels of its own, including multiple sports channels and a business news service.

PCCW also created interactive services, such as sports betting, theater ticket booking, and online directory services, and it began letting customers access their bills online or add new channels using their remote controls. (See PCCW Picks ICTV.)

PCCW also made sure to feature local content relevant to its customers' daily lives, and it's been developing opportunities for user-generated content. High-definition services were launched earlier this year. (See PCCW Uses Harmonic for HD and Taking IPTV Out of the Silo.)

In addition, PCCW has developed a range of interactive advertising models, including opt-in video ads and split-screen presentations.

And while much of the talk in the IPTV community these days is centered on "three screen" (TV, PC, and mobile device) delivery, PCCW goes one further by allowing its content to be viewed on a fourth screen -- a mini screen housed in the carrier's fixed-line home phone unit.

That level of innovation has enabled PCCW to grow its IPTV subscriber base to 932,000 by the end of September 2008. Of that total, 264,000 take the basic content package that comes with their broadband connection, while 668,000 pay monthly fees to buy additional channels or IPTV packages.

It has also enabled PCCW to consistently grow its IPTV customer ARPU. "If you have the right content, including exclusive content, then people will pay," stated Hsiung.

"IPTV is a significant value-added service to broadband service providers, and provides an opportunity to create additional revenues, but you have to innovate, not just with technology but with services and marketing. You have to keep the IPTV product fresh in customers' minds, and to do that you have to innovate to make sure your services don't go stale," said the PCCW man.

So where is PCCW looking to innovate next? With the local market having only limited growth opportunities -- more than 30 percent of Hong Kong homes have the Now TV service -- the carrier is looking to export its IPTV as a service to other operators, and has registered success in Indonesia. (See Carriers Team for IPTV.)

It's also looking beyond the set-top box and further into the user's home. "Our new goal is to offer home networking services. FTTH will give us the bandwidth to develop services that, we hope, customers will pay for -- but we need the bandwidth first," said Hsiung.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:25:48 PM
re: PCCW: IPTV Demands Innovation
The problem with all this variety of innovation in IPTV is that it's still hard to differentiate in substantial ways. At TelcoTV, I saw four or five different middleware UIs. All were slick and easy to use. None were so stunningly different as to present an obvious competitive advantage.

I remember Ben or Jerry getting quoted saying the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor was a once-in-a-lifetime invention. The DVR/PVR is the chocolate chip cookie dough of TV. It's going to be tough to come up with another invention that stands out that much.
Featured Video
From The Founder
The 'gleaming city on a hill,' Steve Saunders calls it. But who is going to take us from today's NFV componentry to the grand future of a self-driving network? Here's a look at the vendors hoping to make it happen.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Could 5G Have Found Its Glass Ceiling?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2017
1 Million Pirate Set-Top Boxes Sold in the UK
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 9/20/2017
Comcast Shuts Down OTT Again
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/19/2017
Why Amazon May Be Cable's Biggest Threat
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/22/2017
Photo Highlights: Operations Transformation Forum 2017
Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, 9/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed