VITAL STATISTICS: This week Interactive TV should reach 71 million households in Europe by 2005, but the UK is expected to be the market leader

It's TV Jim, but not as most of us know it. At the recent MIPTV

trade fair in Cannes, watching delegates trying to come to terms with

iTV was like watching the Star Trek crew dealing with a new species of

alien.



The number of digital homes will grow from 17 million at the end of 2000

to 71 million at the end of 2005, which is 48 per cent of all homes with

a TV set, according to a recent report from Informa Media Group. That's

impressive, but is 48 per cent the real mass market? At least the UK

should remain the market leader with 27.5 per cent of all European TV

homes, forecasts Informa.



Sky Digital's Open is the most successful iTV brand in Europe, followed

by Canal Plus. SBS, the second biggest TV operator in Europe with 140

million viewers, has one of the most aggressive new-media teams.

Examples of SBS activity include a sports channel that allows viewers to

bet live, the launch of Big Brother in Norway (capturing a 61 per cent

market share), and more sophisticated use of SMS and premium phone

lines.



SBS reported that it was achieving 50,000 minutes a week from users

dialling in to listen to the radio mikes carrying the individual audio

feed of each contestant.



With the wisdom of the internet bubble behind them, the major players

are working according to a combination of revenue-generating business

models and serious brand support.



Pearson TV is focusing on online games, based on its major TV brands,

that enable viewers to win prizes. Pearson thinks that the web will

become more like the real world with a handful of major brands. It

points to the 120 million page impressions a month on its Family Feud

web site in the US. Channel 4 has been amazed at the success of its car

sales web site, introduced to support the Driven show on its terrestrial

channel. Once C4 is digital, it will be easy to buy a car while watching

the programme.



Informa has named the phenomenon t-commerce to include all forms of

transactional TV applications made possible with digital set-top

boxes.



T-commerce enables two broad types of application. The first is internet

or walled garden access, and the second is enhanced TV output, including

(crucially) ordering products and services.



Expenditure on t-commerce by consumers, estimated at 245 million euros

(#150m) in 2000, should increase to over 17 billion euros (#10.6bn) in

2005, predicts Informa.



EUROPEAN T-COMMERCE SPEND (MILLION EUROS)

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

UK 146 374 986 2,046 3,699 6,085

France 80 182 459 1,060 2,029 3,204

Germany - 5 214 810 1,768 3,174

Italy 9 42 140 270 518 882

Spain 8 189 350 544 810 1,227

Benelux - 2 39 188 613 1,155

Nordic 1 21 99 293 629 945

Other 1 18 71 153 370 610

Total 245 634 2,358 5,364 10,436 17,263

Source: Informa Media Group



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