Chicago - Forrester Research projects a digital cable universe of 23 million subscribers by the end of 2002, growing to 38 million by the end of 2006.
That was the most provocative point of a report the Cambridge, Mass.-based media research firm presented at the NCTA Show on Monday by Forrester's principal TV analyst, Josh Bernoff. Forrester believes an increasing appetite for video-on-demand will spark digital cable subscriptions and dampen churn as six million of the projected 23 million subscriber base has VOD access by the end of next year. Cheaper interactive software from Liberate Technologies and OpenTV will help drive penetration by creating other on-demand functions, Forrester said, as PVR-enabled set-top boxes start surfacing from satellite TV providers in the 2003 time frame. Bernoff sees games as a potentially lucrative untapped aspect of the digital cable market.
AT&T's recent decision to bail out on plans to use complex Microsoft software in advanced digital set-tops in favor of commissioning more basic software for simpler boxes indicates a trend Bernoff expects to continue. "You can do as much through a DTV-2000 as you can through a DCT-5000," Bernoff said.
- Richard Tedesco