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TV market competition intensifying: ITU

United Arab Emirates,Business/Economy,Media, Thu, 21 Nov 2013 IANS

Geneva, Nov 21 (IANS) The shift from analogue to digital television is fast taking place in the developing world and TV delivery over internet is becoming increasingly popular, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said on the occasion of UN World Television Day Thursday.

In a new report, the ITU said over 55 percent of households with a TV in the world now is receiving a digital signal compared with just 30 percent in 2008.

The report notes that traditional multi-channel TV platforms, such as cable and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite, are facing increasing competition from IPTV service providers and even digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels.

At the same time, TV delivery over the Internet is becoming very popular, particularly through over-the-top (OTT) audio-visual content providers such as YouTube, Netflix and China's PPLive service, as well as the many traditional broadcasting stations that now offer online streaming or downloading of TV and video content.

ITU figures show that, globally, the halfway mark for digital penetration was passed in 2012. In the developed world, an estimated 81 per cent of total households with a TV now receive a digital signal.

But the digital switchover is also moving forward apace in the developing world, where the number of households receiving digital TV almost tripled in the four-year period from 2008 to end 2012, reaching 42 percent.

The number of pay-TV subscriptions worldwide increased by 32 percent between 2008 and 2012, overtaking free-to-air TV in 2011. There were a total of 728 million pay-TV subscriptions by end 2012, meaning that 53 percent of all households with a television had a pay-TV subscription.

The steady decline in analogue TV technologies is being counterbalanced by strong growth of digital technologies. Digital cable subscriptions more than doubled between 2008 and 2012, as did the number of households receiving DTT.

The technology with the highest relative growth was IPTV, with total subscriptions increasing more than fourfold over the four-year period. In absolute terms, however, IPTV still represents a marginal share of total households with a TV, accounting for just 5 per cent in 2012.

"New technologies are creating a plethora of new platforms for content sharing, which in turn is making television much more accessible over a wide range of devices," said Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU secretary-general.

"This is very important in the developing world, where TV continues to play an important role in education and knowledge sharing," he added.

Globally, ITU figures show that there were an estimated 1.4 billion households with at least one TV set by end 2012. In the developing world as a whole, 72 per cent of households had a TV, compared with 98 per cent household penetration in developed countries. In Africa, fewer than one third of households had a TV at end 2012.

In December 1996, the UN General Assembly proclaimed Nov 21 as World Television Day commemorating the date on which the first World Television Forum was held that year. The UN invited all member states to observe the day by encouraging global exchanges of television programmes focusing, among other things, on issues such as peace, security, economic and social development .

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