New research from the CSA, France’s TV regulator, shows that IPTV is close to overtaking DTT as the principal mode of TV reception in French living-rooms.
According to the latest quarterly edition of the CSA’s Observatoire de l’equipement audiovisual des foyers (‘Household TV equipment monitor’), 43.4% of the country’s main TV sets received their broadcast TV signal via an ADSL or fibre link from an Internet service provider in Q2 2016, against 45.2% through a roof-top aerial (see Table 1 below).
Table 1: TV reception mode on main household TV set (%)*
|Q1 2015||Q2 2015||Q3 2015||Q4 2015||Q1 2016||Q2 2016|
* Percentages add up to >100% because categories overlap
** All homes receiving TV via ADSL or fibre from an ISP
Arguably, IPTV would probably have overtaken DTT in Q2 2016 on this measure had it not been for France’s ‘second switchover’, in which DTT signals in the MPEG-2 format were switched off overnight from the 4th to the 5th of April, transitioning France’s terrestrial platform to an all-MPEG-4 environment (see previous story).
This is perhaps surprising. Mandated switchovers – whether from analogue to digital, or as in this case, from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 – represent an opportunity, if not an incentive, for consumers not only to upgrade their TV viewing equipment, but to switch to a different platform.
In both France and the UK, for instance, analogue switchover was followed by a reduction in the proportion of DTT-only homes. Ofcom’s latest figures show that DTT-only households fell from 11.02m to 10.46m between 2012 (when analogue TV was switched off in the UK) and 2014. The main beneficiary seems to have been the free-to-air satellite platform Freesat, which saw its numbers rise from 1.76m to 2.04m over the same period.
The figures have stabilised since, but the UK’s DTT-only platform is still behind where it stood in 2012.
In France, the percentage of DTT-only homes had already begun declining a year before analogue switchoff took place there, in November 2011, having reached a peak of 67% in 2010. Here, IPTV appears to have been the main beneficiary, but – as Table 1 demonstrates – its seemingly inexorable progress ground to a halt in Q2 2016 and went into reverse.
Perhaps this was to do with the fact that France’s second switchover involved an upgrade from SD to HD on the DTT platform (historically, MPEG-2 had been mandated as the norm for standard-definition terrestrial TV broadcasts, with MPEG-4 reserved for HD).
Although broadband speeds have been increasing rapidly in France, in part due to an accelerating fibre rollout, the CSA references in its report figures from the telecoms regulator, ARCEP, that show that over 40% of broadband connections are deemed too slow to support TV viewing (ARCEP places the critical threshold at 8Mbit/s, to allow for telephony and Internet access alongside TV).
Presumably, an even smaller proportion are able to support HD.
After over a year of government-supported marketing messages under the slogan ‘Tous à la TNT Haute Définition” (“Let’s all move to High-Definition DTT”), perhaps it’s not that surprising, after all, that consumers elected to upgrade to HD on their existing DTT installations instead of joining the rush for IPTV.
As France’s broadband speeds continue to progress, however, it probably won’t be very long before IPTV is again challenging DTT as the main TV delivery platform on French households’ principal TV set.