VOD and PVR Are Pawns in DBS vs. Cable MSO Battle, Says ABI

Video on demand (VOD) and personal video recording (PVR), the two non-linear video viewing models, will redefine the future of the television experience, according to a new study from technology research firm ABI.

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. - - September 23, 2003 - - Video on demand (VOD) and personal video recording (PVR), the two non -linear video viewing models, will redefine the future of the television experience, according to a new study from technology research firm ABI. Presently, PVR may be the weapon of choice for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) operators, while VOD is favored by cable MSOs. All pay -TV platforms, including the budding "Telco TV," will rely heavily on the non -linear aspect and convenience of these two technologies.

Hollywood and other content owners, interested in defending their most valued content, are watching these technologies with skepticism and caution. However, Hollywood must remember that the multi -billion dollar VHS rental industry was spawned by the predecessors of VOD/PVR - the original Betamax and VCR. At the time of their launch, video recording technologies triggered initial dissension that was later followed by insouciance on the part of corporate media owners.

"Although PVR's entry into the television viewing experience has been a little rocky, replete with controversies and lawsuits," explains Vamsi Sistla, ABI senior analyst and report author, "ultimately, it will be a boon to the pay -TV industry by joining forces with VOD." Consumers, Sistla reasons, will ultimately choose advanced - - and packaged - - video services.

Not just limited to the cable platform, VOD offerings are being launched by content aggregators while progressive telcos are looking at Internet protocol (IP) -based and digital subscriber line (DSL) -based VOD offerings. "While IOCs [Independent Operating Carriers] are busy offering video services to compete with cable's 'triple play,' leading RBOCs [Regional Bell Operating Companies] are partnering with DBS operators to offer video services packaged with voice and data," continues Sistla. "This is a strategy implemented by the RBOCs to reduce their churn and compete with the leading cable operators, by reducing expenditures on upgrades to their old DSL infrastructure. This will also dramatically reduce their time of entry into the video market."

While the battle between RBOCs and cable is heating up for the voice subscriber, DBS operators are benefiting on the side by increasing their video subscribers through partnerships with telcos. According to ABI, this strategy of RBOCs' - - "sleeping with the enemy's enemy" - - is expected to be only a short term or mid term strategy.

Some of the significant points of this study are: · By 2005, the number of cable VOD households in North America will be 3 times that of Europe and 10 times that of the rest of the world; · VOD and PVR will go "hand in glove" in the next generation of on -demand services as both are set to grow at about 50% on a CAAG basis through 2008; · While the service revenue generated by cable VOD deployments will grow at 56% annually, IP - and broadband -based VOD service revenue will grow at triple digit rates through 2008; and · While the growth rate of IP set -top boxes (STBs) is over 64%, digital cable STB shipments will grow at less than 10% CAAG rate through 2008.

ABI's new study, "VOD and PVR: Opportunities for VOD, PVR, and IP Equipment Vendors, Content Providers, and Operators," assesses the current state of the cable VOD, IP VOD and PVR markets, and provides trends and forecasts for North American, European and Rest of World markets. The report examines the rollout of cable VOD in the context of digital migration from analog tier service, cable VOD -capable households, and service operator strategies. There is an in -depth focus on telcos and other broadband players eagerly eyeing video distribution services, including on -demand. Particular focus is paid to the infrastructure and equipment needed to roll out VOD from a cable and telco perspective, including VOD media servers, VOD transport, and STBs.

About ABI
ABI is a N.Y. -based technology market research firm founded in 1990. ABI publishes market research and technology intelligence on the wireless, automotive, electronics, networking and energy industries. Details can be found on the web at abiresearch.com or by calling 516 -624 -3113.

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