Internet-delivered television (IPTV) content will attract nearly nine million paying customers across Europe during the next four years, claims new research from Screen Digest, a London-based specialist in global audiovisual media.

According to the report, European IPTV: Market Assessment and Forecast, IPTV will by 2009 account for almost ten per cent of the European pay TV market.

The number of IPTV subscribers in Europe is poised to increase to 8.7 million by 2009, up from just 658,000 today. The number of IPTV subscribers in Europe has increased 66% so far this year and with more services about to launch, 2005 is projected to show a 200% increase on 2004 figures.

The new technology is set to mount a significant challenge to established European satellite and cable operators. By 2009, IPTV will have a 9.4% share of the European pay TV market.

The impact of IPTV on local pay-TV markets will be strongest in France, Italy and Spain: by 2009 it will have a 20% share of the market in Italy, 17% in France and 16% in Spain.

Predicts the report's author, Daniel Schmitt: "The combination of compelling, competitively priced triple-play offers that include true video-on-demand will prove a winning formula. Many traditional pay television providers are finding that they too must adopt IPTV technologies in order to remain competitive".

The UK, despite being Europe's first IPTV market, has yet to become a significant player and in mid 2005 had a mere 30,000 subscribers. However, the market is set for a major boost from BT's Freeview Plus hybrid, its commercial launch scheduled for summer 2006 [WAMN: 28-Oct-05].

Data sourced from Screen Digest (UK); additional content by WARC staff