www.telecomweb.com is currently carrying a terrific story on how Hong Kong’s PCCW continues to trail-blaze in the pay-TV market, and it may soon be the first telco in the world whose IPTV subscriber total eclipses the customer base of competing cable providers.
The web site reports that PCCW ended 2005 with close to 550,000 IPTV subscribers – up more than 50 percent in a year – and it is rapidly closing in on Hong Kong’s market leader: cable operator i-Cable Communications.
At the end of 2004, PCCW only had about 360,000 customers for its IPTV service, called “now TV.” Its impressive 52-percent subscriber growth compares to only a 5-percent growth rate in 2005 for i-Cable, which ended the year with 738,000 pay-TV subscribers. At the end of 2004, i-Cable served more than 700,000 subscribers, so PCCW is catching up fast.
If the current growth rates continue, it’s possible that, at some point toward the end of the year, PCCW will become the market-share leader in terms of providing pay-TV services in Hong Kong, which would represent a remarkable feat for the telco.
The story also says that PCCW emphasises content deals. It signed new exclusive content agreements with HBO Asia Pacific, the STAR group and Mei Ah Entertainment. In another key deal, announced earlier this year, PCCW enhanced it local Chinese content by signing a long-term agreement with Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting Limited to carry 20 of its channels on the “now TV” platform. This month has also seen PCCW launch its 24-hour Cantonese-language “now Business News Channel.”
In other key parts of its full-year results released today, PCCW announced a strong increase in the number of broadband subscribers. PCCW’s total number of broadband access lines rose 20 percent, to 953,000, at the end of December 2005, up from 796,000 a year earlier. The company also said 330,000 customers had registered for its trial 3G services. And to entice customers, about one one-third of them have received a free 3G handset, the web site report concluded.
[e-broadcastnewsasia editor, Gerald Brown: PCCW when it took over Hongkong Telecom, the then dominant telco in Hong Kong, teh comopany's management demoralised many small shareholders when it leveraged the company's value which resulted in plummeting stock price. Since then PCCW has tried to regain investor confidence. Results this year "may" go some way to regain the trust of the average Hong Kong investor. Only time and share price and dividend improvement will tell.]