Web TV downloads forecast to hit $6.3bn

Downloads of television programmes and films from websites are expected to grow 10-fold to be worth $6.3bn in 2012, although some content companies have not learned from the music industry's experiences with Internet piracy, says a report.

Global revenues generated by legal online television and film services such as YouTube, Google Video, Movielink, and Apple's iTunes Video are expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, thanks to growing broadband penetration.

The arrival of legal peer-to-peer services, where computer users share files, are also expected to boost Internet protocol TV.

However, in spite of the growing popularity of online TV, the audiovisual sector is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the music industry by hoping that piracy will somehow sort itself out, warns the report by Informa, the business information group.

"Instead of grasping the nettle and embracing online television, they are burying their heads in the sand and hoping it will go away. This will not happen," said Adam Thomas, media research manager at Informa Telecoms and Media.

Although some broadcasters, such as CBS in the US, have been quick to act, many seem either unsure of what to do about the problem, or unwilling to act in the belief that they might generate unwanted publicity and exacerbate the situation.

The music industry did nothing for too long, and then tried heavy-handed legal action that proved largely ineffective.

Having embraced online distribution, the music industry is now seeing positive results from web-based services and broadcasters can replicate this success.

"Companies that do not make their content available online will suffer most from the effects of piracy," said Mr Thomas.

Japan and South Korea are expected to lead in terms of broadband penetration by 2012, with 91 per cent and 81 per cent of households subscribing to broadband respectively. Informa sees the UK following with 79 per cent, and the US with 76 per cent.

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