Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dutch interactive television takes a serious start

On Wednesday the Dutch cable company has started with the distribution of its set-top box, called UPC MediaBox. The company will distribute more than 2 million pieces of equipment to its subscribers. The logistics are handled by TNT.

The UPC MediaBox will have to be installed by the subscriber himself. Besides the box, the subscriber receives a DVD with an electronic manual, while a special customer service desk has been installed.

UPC will provide more than two million subscribers with a set-top box. It is the basis of the UPC Digital TV programme, which includes an Electronic Program Guide, digital television channels, theme channels and services for voting and shopping. The box covers only digital television for one television set. The other television sets will continue to receive the analogue television signal; for every television set a set-top box is required. In 2006 UPC Netherlands will present a Personal Video Recorder.

By handing out set-top boxes digital television in the Netherlands will be able to catch up with the US and UK. Up to now some 80.000 set-top boxes were in the market. In order to canvass the entire Netherlands with set-top boxes 1 billion euro is needed. UPC spends now 300 million euro upgrading its 2,3 million television subscribers. Besides television and digital television, UPC offers broadband to 439.000 internet subscribers and telephony to 248.000 subscribers.

With this action UPC gives an impulse to the interactive television market in the Netherlands. So far the cable companies have avoided the costs and have not been aggressive about installing interactive television as most of the other companies leave it to the subscribers to buy a set-top box at a local retail store. Subscribers who buy a set-top box themselves will not pay extra on their subscription.

(c) Stoneroos

This impulse also means that Dutch producers can start developing new programmes for interactive television. So far Stoneroos has been active in promoting interactive televison programmes.

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