SES AMERICOM has pulled the plug on IP Prime. They’ve announced that effective July 31, 2009, “it will cease providing its IPTV service in North America – IP-PRIME…” SES had signed up approximately 70 or so telcos for the end-to-end IPTV service. It’s somewhat ironic that SES pulled the plug when they did, considering that just last week their CFO was touting progress at an industry meeting. He cited long term contracts with the 70 telcos and the “recession proof” nature of video services as proof positive of SES’s positive future outlook. Apparently, there were other internal views. “… 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 in a company statement.
On the one hand, this is disappointing news. Anytime a high profile project as IP Prime was, fails, it gives the entire industry somewhat of a black eye. This news may cause some telcos to be much more cautious about moving into IPTV. But on the other hand, it’s a positive move in that SES obviously didn’t have the stomach to continue. It’s better to get them out now, so their competitors who are committed over the long term can take up the slack and move the industry forward. Video is still a key part of the triple play bundle, and depending on individual market factors, telcos of all sizes will need it to effectively compete going forward. Losing IP Prime as an option hurts, but there are alternatives.