Editor's Corner

If you're wondering what's on the minds of the IPTV industry's top execs, then you need to talk to Accenture's Ray Dogra and Greg Douglass, since they just completed a survey of "The top 302 executives at technology and media firms involved in or close to the IPTV industry." I had an opportunity to chat with Dogra, the head of Accenture's IPTV initiatives, and Douglass, Accenture's global managing director of the company's media and entertainment practice, last week to discuss the survey. It covered 40 countries in three regions: 35 percent of respondents were based in Europe, 33 percent in the Americas and 32 percent in APAC. Accenture conducted the survey in conjunction with the Economist Intelligent Unit.

One of the key findings of the survey is a sketch of the timetable for significant revenue generation from IPTV services: "At the top level we saw progressively low confidence [a "4.06" on a scale of 1-10] that we're not going to see significant revenues in the next six months," Douglass said. "Despite all the large deployments you see planned across the world and those with the compare the services that are deployed now, the respondents are not expecting to see a large amount [of revenue] coming in a short period." What was more surprising for Dogra and Douglass was the confidence respondents had in significant revenue generation within the next 3 years, which jumped from 4.06 on a scale of one to 10, up to 7.55 for the three year period. Interestingly, the network operators were the most skeptical of revenue prospects in the next year or even the next three years: "No a single network operator was confident that IPTV would spur significant growth in the next year" and no more than half were fairly or very confident that IPTV would bring substantial revenue in three years' time. 

Respondents felt the most important characteristics for a successful company in the IPTV space are flexibility and readiness and Dogra said "Software companies and carriers are not as ready... I guess I would look at this as a tortoise and hare set up since they couldn't wait to get out of the gates then they got out and spent all that money on the networks. There was great hype, great promise and a new future was on the horizon. Then take a look at the tortoise stage of this: AT&T and Verizon are planning years to deploy their services, their getting millions of homes passed [with fiber]. You're also seeing great shifts in the internal organization of the network too that align the customer care, billing, network operations. And now is the right time to do that," Dogra said.

Along with the readiness and flexibility, companies in the IPTV space are taking some cues from the likes of Google and when it comes to nimbleness. IPTV SPs have already demonstrated Google-like nimbleness: "Take AT&T's Homezone, recognize that it bridges the gap between satellite and the Internet and eventually IPTV- that's just one example-a large number of telcos have looked at video portals as an interim step to get their toes wet as a way to touch some of the content relationships," Douglass said. "Several telcos are doing that because they hear the same buzz everyone else does--Google Video, YouTube, advertising on Yahoo. IPTV guys say this is a good complementary service." - Brian