IPTV is now part of a much bigger world

Jim Barthold, FierceIPTVAs a sportswriter I once covered a football game where no one scored. During the 30-minute ride from the game to the newsroom I wracked my brain about what I would write about this event. Once seated at my terminal, the words flowed like melted butter.

"What can you say about a nothing-nothing game?" I wrote. "Nothing."

Unfortunately, the sports editor, with 16 column inches to fill, thought I should say something more and I ended up describing a fierce defensive battle that had rumbled across that playing field that afternoon.

I was reminded of that situation several weeks ago when I was informed that as of today FierceIPTV, as you and I know it, would no longer exist. IPTV, as a subject, would be folded into a more-inclusive FierceCable.

"Hmmmm," I said to myself. "What can you say about a newsletter that's going away?"

Not nothing, I concluded, correctly using a double negative.

Just as with that 0-0 game, there is a bigger story here than just the final score. The video entertainment market has changed. IPTV, the reason FierceIPTV was spawned in the first place, is no longer a niche product to be studied in a niche publication; it is part of a worldwide market of carriers and service providers, some of whom call their product IPTV, some who like to call it IP video, and some who avoid the IP moniker altogether and prefer "managed networks" (which really is a sneaky way of saying that they've taken the best-effort out of the Internet).

As FierceIPTV Publisher Jason Nelson succinctly puts in this issue, the entire pay TV space is changed. While subscriber acquisition is still about us-versus-them, there's more of an "all-of-us-in-the-same-pot" reality to how video entertainment is delivered. Today that means IPTV and cable and satellite are all part of the same pay TV mix, which will appropriately--since cable did start the pay TV business--be covered by FierceCable.

Soon, if you'll accept one last prediction from this corner, that pay TV space will include what we now call over-the-top (OTT) content or online video which, for financial reasons, if no others, will become part of the bigger universe of making people pay for their video entertainment.

So, it's fitting to say that FierceIPTV served its purpose as a mechanism to cover a business that grew beyond its niche to take its place in the way television is delivered and watched these days.

In football terms, IPTV is the AFL of video entertainment, taking the field in the shadow of the NFL but, through the efforts of some pretty powerful players like AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), reaching competitive parity with the big guys.

Now IPTV is part of FierceCable which, of course, you'll now also read to get all the latest developments. Look for my byline in other Fierce products, such as ebooks.--Jim