BERLIN — IPTV penetration in Germany is climbing dramatically, according to a report by Bitkom, the German association for information technology, telecommunications and new media.

The org on Wednesday presented a study estimating the number of IPTV users in the country to grow by 50% next year to 1.8 million.

While relatively low compared with the 34.5 million traditional TV households in Germany, the figure is increasing by leaps and bounds, according to the study, which reflects similar estimates presented by PriceWaterhouseCoopers last year:

Some 180,000 viewers watched TV over the Internet in 2007. The following year, that number grew to 536,000 and by the end of 2009, it’s expected to reach 1.2 million.

Presenting the study in Berlin on Wednesday at the 2nd Bitkom IPTV Summit, Bitkom vice prexy Achim Berg said: “Television over the Internet is the television of the future. The online generation expects individual television offerings and interaction like only Internet TV can offer.”

Telco companies Deutsche Telekom, HanseNet/Alice and Arcor launched the first IPTV services in Germany in 2006.

In addition to classic TV channels, the IPTV services now offer extra features such as time-delayed TV, video-on-demand and extensive programming information as well as email functions.

While there’s an increasing number of web TV sites on the Internet, Berg said they are no real substitute for IPTV, adding: “The IPTV providers can use the advantage they have with high-quality technologies and content to establish themselves as premium platforms for their customers.”