Video Competition, pt. 3: IPTV Something Familiar To Americans

by on February 16, 2006

Telecom policy is famous for its acronyms. Everything from POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) to PANS (Potential Advanced Network Services) has its own TLA or FLA (Three Letter Acronym or Four Letter Acronym). And technology being what it is, they change all the time–with new generations of acronyms constantly being coined. Thus its not surprising that most people I know just glaze over when hearing about them all. Most of the terms so familar to tech geeks and us policy wonks may as well be Aramaic to the average person.

For that reason, I found a new Harris Interactive poll released this week rather surprising: over half (56%) of Americans are familar with IPTV. Not bad for a relatively new acronym, and a service that’s only available in a few markets. Moreover, those polled are interested in getting IPTV–one in four said they’d like to have it on their TVs. One in five were interested in getting it on their PCs.

That’s good new for companies like Verizon and SBC, who are challenging cable firms with new IPTV (or IPTV-like) services. However, there’s bad news too for them: one-third of respondents said they’d be most comfortable getting IPTV from their cable company. Only 13 said their telephone company. Still, the overall numbers indicate that Americans are receptive to change here, providing more reason to believe a TV revolution may be coming soon.

Also interesting is the reasons that people are interested in IPTV. Not surprisingly, lower cost was the most important factor–with 42 percent citing that. However, the next two reasons related to individual choice and control over programming, with on-demand viewing mentioned by 33 percent, and a broader array of programming content cited by 24 percent.

This seems to support the argument that IPTV could be a major factor in the on-going debate over TV content. Pro-family groups are pressing for more consumer choice in cable (eg a la carte pricing) as a way to filter out offensive programming. IPTV very well may provide that choice, and this poll shows people are getting the message that IPTV is about choices as well as prices. This could be a classic case of TBOS (Two Birds, One Stone).

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