Different platforms grow at different paces

China is forecast to continue to see expansion of its digital cable, mobile phone and theatrical film markets for several years. Satellite TV and IPTV are growing at a slower pace because government, having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in cable, has sought to protect it from directly competing technologies.

Another factor holding back IPTV has been the relatively low penetration of broadband Internet and computers in the home. By a recent count, China had 298 million Web users (up 48% in 2008), but many of those use Internet cafes, which receive content from intermediary aggregators and are increasingly finding the legality of that content questioned by regulators cracking down on vulgarity.

Meanwhile the theatrical market is thriving as cinema screens come onstream at the rate of 10 a week. Box office receipts grew by 27% in 2008 to $622 million.

Hong Kong, which is a “Special Administrative Region” of China with its own laws, currency and economic trends, is home to arguably the most successful deployment of IPTV in the world.

NowTV, launched there in 2003 by telco PCCW, last year became the territory’s leading pay TV platform, overtaking its cable rival in 2008. But on-demand movie offerings remain small.

The territory is pushing ahead with digital terrestrial television, which now reaches 25% of households in its coverage zone. It is free but require modifications to receiving equipment.

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