Asia overtook Europe in the first three months of 2012 to become the world's largest IPTV market by subscribers, it emerged on Wednesday.
New figures collated by Point Topic and published by the Broadband Forum revealed that the total IPTV user base reached 65.6 million worldwide, compared to 48.2 million a year ago. The biggest single market, China, overtook France in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson said the growth is not coming from the traditional broadcast IPTV sector, but rather over-the-top (OTT) content providers.
"Broadcast IPTV's market share is diminishing rapidly," he claimed, particularly in the U.S., which has coined the phrase 'cutting the cord' to describe users who end long-running, often expensive relationships with big cable TV providers and opt instead for content delivered by the likes of Netflix.
Broadband Forum chief executive Robin Mersh noted that traditional IPTV players are responding with bundled value-added services, such as online gaming, local news, and karaoke – particularly popular in Asian countries.
Going forward, Johnson said he expects telcos to increasingly establish CDN (content delivery network) agreements with OTT players in a bid to divert some revenue in the direction of the network operator, but stopped short of predicting co-branded services.
"It's not something I see happening," he said. "A lot of these OTT companies have established quite a strong brand for themselves already."
Meanwhile, the Broadband Forum also announced that global fixed broadband subscribers surpassed 600 million during the first quarter of this year, compared to 540 million a year ago. More than 100 million lines were added in the last 18 months, the industry body said.
"The industry has done a very good job in creating value for money in broadband, particularly when the economy is the way it is at the moment," noted Mersh.
Asia once again accounts for the lion's share of connections, growing by 15.19% over the last 12 months to reach 262 million. The five Asian markets that make the world's top 20 in terms of broadband connections together serve 239 million subscribers, more than a third of the global total.