Pay TV will make 20m European households interactive in 2000

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Pay TV attracts a different kind of consumer from the PC. In a recent report, Forrester Research outlines how today’s offline population will choose the TV rather than the PC as their main point of online access. Pay TV will bring interactivity into 20 million European households this year, and by 2005 50% of European households will have iDTV. The growth of pay TV all over Europe will be the main driver for the increase of iDTV, and e-mail will be the battering ram for iDTV’s interactive services.

In research across five European markets – Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden – some overlap was found between ownership of set-top boxes and ownership of mobile phones or PCs. But dividing users by which devices they own reveals four groups with very different demographics, attitudes, and behavior: boxed and wired, leaning forwards, laid-back socializers, and digital outcasts.

“iDTV has the opportunity to become the major point of online access for the present offline population if iDTV companies adopt e-mail-friendly strategies. E-mail is cited by 66% as the reason they go online from home. For many people, PCs are just an expensive e-mail machine,” said Reineke Reitsma, analyst for Technographics Europe.

Forrester believes that iDTV companies that satisfy consumers in terms of technology, content, and price will be able to prevent this large portion of the population from moving to PC-based Internet access. “Offering just email via TV will not be enough,” Reitsma said. “Suppliers have to offer a keyboard, access from multiple TV sets, a good return path, and all this for as low a price as possible. But if they succeed, present PC suppliers will have to reposition.”

“Consumers with both a set-top box and online access from home – Boxed and Wired – account for the smallest percentage of the population. They are highly entertainment-focused, which shows in their ownership of all types of technology and their thirst for going out.

Leaning Forwards represent 17% of the population. More than 50% are high-income technology optimists. They are primarily men motivated by career or entertainment,” explained Reitsma. “Thirteen per cent of consumers fall into the Laid-back Socializers category, who have pay TV but no Internet access at home. They love to interact with friends. Laid-back Socializers plus Digital Outcasts will be the primary targets for winning iDTV companies.”

Currently three out of four European consumers do not go online from their home PC. Forrester believes that the nature of Europe’s online landscape in five years’ time will be defined by this group.

For the report “iDTV’s New Battering Ram: Email,” Forrester used results from the Technographics Europe February and March 2000 survey of 17,500 consumers. By applying a unique segmentation model to survey data from both Internet users and offline consumers, Technographics offers an innovative way of developing marketing plans for any technology-based product or service.

Forrester Research is an independent Internet research firm, analyzing technology change and its impact on business, consumers, and society.

Forrester

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