The audiovisual protagonism of the telcos: Vodafone TV at the starting blocks

Blog article
Bruno ZAMBARDINO

Vodafone TV 2Less than two months after Netflix's arrival in Italy (it is not yet known how many users have gone from the trial phase to the actual payment of the service) comes the news of the pthe fothcoming arrival of Vodafone tv by next summer, next to a package of new initiatives to boost investment in ultrafast networks.

At the moment the group led by Vittorio Colao is carrying out the first tests in a controlled environment on a platform built with the technical support of Kaltura. Customers will be equipped with a set top box that will have a double entry for both terrestrial digital and fiber to access a rich package of on-demand free and pay offers with an interface similar to that of smart TVs. Vodafone has announced non-exclusive agreements with all content providers from OTTs to traditional broadcasters such as Rai, Sky, Discovery. It will certainly be a formidable new competitor alongside the fast mover Telecom (its Timvision service has been on the market for several years) that enters a pay-in-the-way market, with Sky managing to limit the damage (it has lost only 58,000 customers in the last two quarters) remaining around 4.7 million subscribers and Mediaset that – now at 1.9 million – has started unscrupulous trade policies by proposing downside offers to quickly broaden the base and try to regain market confidence.

In short, an unmistakable signal of the increasingly massive and interested presence of telco operators in the pay TV business. We also said that in our last Report I-Com on next generation networks and services. 2016 will be characterized by a relaunch of iptv offerings and a consolidation of the strategies of telco operators, marking a leap in quality in the race to expand its user base that uses broadband services, possibly fiber, in tandem with public and private investments in the new networks. We recall that Vodafone currently has 2.3 million fixed-line customers and 1.9 million broadband customers in Italy and aims to grow fibre by leveraging its 24.7 million mobile customers.

From simple commercial agreements with content providers will come to real industrial policies with new mergers, integrations and new ownership structures (think of vivendi/Cala's entry into Telecom) and with new services aimed at an increasingly hungry audience for high-definition quality video content. Also in our country the recovery of the television market – which according to the data It Media Consulting in 2017 is expected to record a 1.8% increase between now and 2017 – will go through a new prominence of the telephone operators as already happened in Spain, where most of the revenues are now absorbed by players such as Telefonica, the same Vodafone that bought ONO, Orange and Jazztel. Not to mention the dynamic and competitive UK market where the growth rates of mobile advertising and video-on-demand subscriptions travel in double digits. Here, while Sky and Virgin Media subscribers have stood at 14 million since 2010, users of on-demand services such as Amazon Prime Instant (1.3 million users), Now TV and Netflix (4.5 million subscribers) have grown rapidly, as have TalkTalk and BT offers, according to E-media data.

The BT's new course it is exemplary and certainly represents the model that Vodafone is heading, but it raises serious questions about the real raison d'etre of some regulatory and regulatory limits that keep the TV markets separate (free and pay that together are worth 18 billion euros in growth thanks to the powerful pull of non-linear offers) from those of Tlc.

In the UK all the major broadband operators that make television and dominate the television market and vice versa. With its multi-billion dollar investment in the Champions And Premier League, BT's broadband revenues have benefited from a gradual increase for seven consecutive quarters (from 2013 to 2015), more than any competitor, with the value of the shares doubling.

The immediate entrance of OCT in the audiovisual market now risks shuffling the cards heavily. Seen as a defensive move or as a long-term strategy, convergence has in fact become the main driver of development in the new competitive scenario.

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