Do You See What I See?

So while I worked at SES AMERICOM, getting their IPTV service off the ground was one of the projects I was particularly proud of. A completely new service, it is technically sound and backed-up by some of the finest people in the video distribution business. We branded it IP-PRIME® and sold it to telcos who needed video services to compete with cable, who was going after their customers with voice and data services.

After three years of, in my opinion, decent marketing efforts, it seemed it was picking up steam and rolling on down the line. Only last week, Telephony wrote about the company’s positive outlook:

SES Americom’s content aggregation business continues to thrive in the face of an economic downturn, buoyed by demand for high-definition television and long-term relationships with programmers, chief financial officer Robert Kisilywicz told attendees at UBS’s annual global media and communications conference held this week in New York City.

The wholesale distributor, which announced at TelcoTV that it had signed up 65 total telcos in 31 states to its IP Prime platform, will launch 13 new satellite programs in the next three years, adding more than 28% growth in its transponder business. Kisilywicz said it has no liquidity concerns and will remain fully funded through 2010. Also helping the financial outlook is the fact that SES customers typically sign 10- to 15-year non-cancelable contracts, giving the company long-term visibility.

“When a customer makes a buying decision, it’s typically a long-term relationship,” Kisilywicz said. “As that platform grows, as they add subscribers and, in turn, more channels, customers want to sign on with operators who have the capacity to grow with them…They don’t want to be turned away when they reach growth capacity or be told to repoint their network. That puts SES in quite a good position as some of our competitors are withdrawing their fleets in the market.”

When I read that, I thought “great,” the service will succeed and I’ll be proud. This morning, however, I’m inclined to say I saw that train coming. SES says it’s time to change tracks:

SES AMERICOM today announced that it will cease providing its IPTV service in North America – IP-PRIME – by July 31, 2009. The termination of the service is motivated by the slow adoption of IPTV by small and medium size telecom operators as well as by the difficult market outlook for this kind of service.

“In line with its plan, IP-PRIME has contracted IPTV signal delivery agreements with 70 small telecom operators, of which 37 have so far reached commercial stage. However, with a subscriber base of less than ten thousand at the end of November and after more than 2 years of service, the consumer uptake is insufficient to justify continuing operations,” said Rob Bednarek, President and CEO of SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES.

Too bad; hope they find somebody to continue the service beyond July of 2009.

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2 Responses

  1. That’s embarrassing, saying the service is good and then shuttering. The UBS conference (http://www.ubs.com/1/e/media_overview/media_americas/releases.html?newsId=158928) had some heavy hitters…

    WHAT: UBS’s 36th Annual Global Media Conference will feature presentations by senior management from more than 90 leading advertising, broadcasting, publishing, multi-channel television distribution, entertainment, telecommunication, video gaming and new media companies from around the globe. The preliminary list of presenting companies includes:

    A H Belo
    AT&T
    Belo Corp.
    British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC
    Cablevision
    Careerbuilder.com
    CBS Corporation
    CBS Vision
    CBS Interactive
    Central European Media Enterprises
    CenturyTel, Inc.
    Comcast Corporation
    Cumulus Media
    Digital Realty Trust
    Discovery Communications
    Dupont Fabros Technology
    E. W. Scripps Company
    Electronic Arts
    Embarq Corporation
    Entravision Communications
    France Telecom
    Frontier Communications
    Gannett Co., Inc.
    Grupo Televisa
    Hulu
    Hughes
    ICO Global Communications
    IHS
    iMAX
    IMG
    Inmarsat
    Interpublic Group of Companies
    Interpublic Group of Companies (McCann)
    JCDecaux UK
    John Wiley
    Leap Wireless
    Liberty Global, Inc.
    Liberty Media Corporation
    Lionsgate
    LodgeNet Interactive Corporation
    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
    McClatchy Company
    MDC Partners
    Media General, Inc.
    Meredith Corporation
    MobiTV
    Move Networks
    MSCI Inc, USA
    NBC Universal
    New York Times Company
    News Corporation
    Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc
    NextWave Wireless Inc
    Nielsen
    NTELOS Holdings Corp.
    O3B Networks
    ORBCOMM Inc.
    Pando
    Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
    Qwest
    RCN
    Rentrak
    Rogers Communications Inc.
    Savvis
    Scripps Networks Interactive
    Shanda
    SES
    Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc
    Sprint Nextel Corporation
    SureWest Communications
    Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
    TelX
    Terremark
    Thumbplay
    Time Warner
    Time Warner Cable
    TRA
    Ubisoft
    Unitymedia
    Viacom
    Virgin Media
    Visible World
    Walt Disney Company
    Washington Post Company
    Westwood One
    Windstream Communications
    World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
    WPP Group
    Yahoo!
    YES Network
    ZenithOptimedia

    WHY: Media and communications companies hold a unique role in society and the economy, whether as a means of entertainment or as a tool to build consumer brands. Innovation and evolution in the sector have blurred the traditional boundaries between media and communications, leading to increased industry consolidation. As consumers change the way they get news, watch television or communicate with friends and family, this year’s conference will provide investors and media with essential information on trends in this critical sector.

    Aryeh Bourkoff, Vice Chairman of Technology, Media & Telecom banking at UBS said, “The companies scheduled to present at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference will be discussing how their businesses are performing in this turbulent economic period. The advertising forecast for 2009, which will be released at the conference, will surely be closely monitored.”

    The 36th Annual UBS Media Week Conference is a “must attend” event for media investors around the world.

  2. […] want, when they want, and where they want.  Come to think of it, that was the mantra we used at SES AMERICOM in developing the IP-PRIME service. It was an all-MPEG-4 IPTV service, fully capable of being viewed on any device. Too bad it’s […]

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