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France’s High Speed Broadband Is Enabler For New TV Competitors

by David Mercer | Nov 21, 2008

Another sign that France continues to lead the world in emerging TV business models: the leading media and electronics retailer, FNAC, and French IPTV technology specialist Netgem have announced details of a new service called “Pack TV”. The set-top box comprises an HD-DTT DVR with the usual live pause and other recording functions, together with Internet access to video-on-demand movies. The VOD service was developed jointly by FNAC and Glowria, a Netgem subsidiary, which offers both disc (DVD/BD) mailing as well as online movies. FNAC has already been offering online movies for some time, downloaded to the PC. It even suggests internet users can watch them on their TV sets, but its instructions confirm this might not be a task for the faint-hearted. The Netgem solution is clearly intended to overcome these barriers and open up the online movie service to the TV watching public. The service will launch in early December. It will be priced at €149.90 when a 12-month subscription at €5.90/month is taken out; alternatively it is available at €259.90 without a subscription. The subscription fee covers access to the basic pay channels available on the French DTT (TNT) service as well as all the free-to-air channels. On-demand movies will be separately priced at upwards of €2.99. It’s worth considering the similarities between this service and a “managed” DTT/VOD service such as BT’s BT Vision, which also combines DTT with internet-delivered on-demand content. Apart from the range of content available, the functionalities appear to be quite similar. The difference in the FNAC case is that there is no broadband service provider taking a cut from the revenues. Instead, a leading electronics retailer is taking that role, and using its distribution and marketing power to reach the mass market. Customers need only have a DSL connection – their BSP may know nothing about it and will get no direct revenues from VOD usage. France’s broadband network is several laps ahead of the UK’s – average advertised broadband speeds in France are 17.6Mbps compared to 2.6Mbps in the UK. So while France’s market opens up to innovative web 2.0, “over-the-top” competitors, we should not expect anything as radical in the UK until access speeds can reliably support video to a similar degree. Client Reading: Web TV: Emerging Devices Bridge the PC-TV Chasm Add to Technorati Favorites
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