Video Tsunami Coming

I was looking at the global statistics page at the back of the most recent Economist Magazine and noticed that it had a chart laying out the % of households in each country that use IPTV (internet) as their primary means of getting their television services (vs. cable, satellite, etc). Below are the top 7 countries on the list:

Hong Kong 31%
Iceland 27%
Estonia 10%
France 10%
Cyprus 10%
Sweden 8%
S Korea 7%
(US <1%)

Much like cellular has leapfrogged land lines as the primary telecom pipe in developing countries, many countries are going with IPTV as a prominent source of distributing content. Homes can get both internet access and video/TV delivered through one pipe. We have seen this phenomenon up close through our Growth Fund’s investment in UUSee, the leading IPTV P2P provider in China with over 30 million users.

In addition to this IPTV trend, we are also seeing videos come at us from the hosted video sites like YouTube, Metacafe and specialized channels like Celebtv. My kids are watching entire episodes of their favorite shows on the show’s website. While people complain about having too diverse a choice through the hundreds of cable/satellite channels, imagine the complexity when thousands of IPTV channels emerge. With the low cost of production and low cost of distribution, people will be able to set up extremely niched “channels”.

This will create quite the challenge for advertisers, who are still trying to figure out how to use banner ads. Instead of a simple decision of what image to put in a banner that is broadcast out, they will have to figure out if they want to use pre/post roll advertising, sponsored advertising, contextual text links beside videos, overlays on top of videos or jump into the creative game and produce content itself. The permutations of types of content with types of channels is becoming mind boggling. However, for creative lead gen players, this will present a terrific opportunity to capitalize on the complexity and the glut of ad inventory arising.

Of course, this doesn’t begin to get into the challenges of integrating cross-media promotions (text/SMS, website, etc) or the rise of mobile advertising. It’s going to be a great couple of years here as the IPTV revolution swings through!