Verizon Plans FiOS IPTV Service

Verizon is in the early phases of deploying an Internet Protocol television (IPTV) system in a move to bring its FiOS brand to the Web, according to a well-placed source within the company. The service will extend beyond PCs to gaming consoles.

While I was was not given any timetable for the service’s arrival, Verizon is operating under a sense of urgency. “We are late to the game,” my source told me. Internal testers at Verizon are already using the service, including software for Sony’s PlayStation 3. A Verizon spokesperson said that the company did not comment on “rumor or speculation.”

“Verizon is a clear leader in video entertainment innovation, and as such, we are always looking at new ways to transform and enrich the user experience,” the spokesperson said. “Consider all of the features and services that FiOS introduced first: widgets; online video programming, including HBO Go, EPIX and last week’s announcement that we’ll be launching Turner networks online in June; social media (Facebook and Twitter) and Internet Videos (YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.) on TV, and more…”

Comcast launched an IPTV service that lets its existing customers watch TV on a PC late last year. However, Comcast is established in more markets than FiOS. Verizon’s IPTV would extend its reach into markets where entrenched, highly profitable, cable providers have dominated the market. However, the cable business model is now facing competition as IPTV services have proven to be an acceptable alternative for many consumers.

Roku, Boxee, and other media digital media products are bringing IPTV into the mainstream. Even Google is getting in on the action. The Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo Wii all offer Netflix software, and content providers ranging from the CBS and the National Hockey League are streaming their own content on the Web. MediaMall’s PlayOn media server now has “channels” from many of those providers.

Today’s consumers wants to watch what they want when they want, and have less of an inclination to pay for content (i.e. channels) that they do not wish to watch. Those devices not only make that scenario possible, they make the experience enjoyable. I expect that trend to accelerate as more content becomes available online.

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