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China DTV Subs Reach 23.6 mln, IPTV Subs 1.14 mln

21st Century Business Herald, 12/20/07

China Netmedia, a consulting arm of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) has revealed that as of November 31, 2007 the number of cable DTV subscribers in China reached 23.65 mln. The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 81.3% and growth of over 200% in the last 4 years. During the same period, IPTV accumulated 1.14 mln subscribers, but IPTV growth has dropped from a high of 480% in 2005 to 110% today.

By November 2007, 68 cities (including 7 provincial capitals, 39 municipal-level cities, and 22 county-level cities) had completed cable DTV conversion, with the penetration rate of cable DTV reaching 24.33%. The biggest obstacle to DTV conversion is the high level of fragmentation and lack of interoperability between cable DTV operators for each city.

By October 2007, in the 30 municipalities and provinces that China Netmedia tracked, approximately 10 provinces had nearly completed provincial cable network integration. These included Hebei, Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Gansu, Hainan, Jilin, Tianjin, Shanghai and Jiangxi. Other provinces such as Shaanxi, Beijing, Henan, and Xinjiang had completed about 75% of the conversion process. The conversion process in currently well underway in more than 10 other provinces (including Guangdong), leaving only Sichuan and Heilongjiang as the two provinces that have not yet started conversions.

According to a source from SARFT's Broadcasting Science and Technology Department, in 2008, once the networks have been integrated, over half of all provinces will launch a large-scale conversion, with the total estimate for DTV subscribers in 2008 greater than 50 mln.

Currently, IPTV business remains concentrated in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Henan and Heilongjiang, although 17 provinces including Jiangsu, Hubei and Guangdong are actively preparing to provide IPTV services in 2008. However there are still many uncertainties in IPTV development, such as the conflict between telecom and broadcasting players and the possible launch of 3G, which will draw away telecom operator investment from IPTV. There is also an unwillingness of local broadcasters to cooperate, and in some places barriers have been put up hindering the launch of IPTV services.

Editor's note: SARFT's last officially published figure for cable TV households, corresponding to end of H1 2006, was 130.6 mln. Accordingly, even if there had been zero growth in cable TV households since mid-2006, the highest rate of DTV penetration currently possible would be approximately 18%.

Keywords: DTV cable TV IPTV SARFT China Netmedia users growth rate timetable statistics penetration Hebei Guangxi Inner Mongolia Yunnan Gansu Hainan Jilin Tianjin Shanghai Jiangxi Shaanxi Beijing Henan Xinjiang Sichuan Heilongjiang Broadcasting Science and Technology Department Zhejiang Jiangsu Hubei Guangdong television telecom

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