Ric Williams Launches IPTV Venture

At next week's third annual IPTV World Forum in London, adult-industry entrepreneur Ric Williams will demonstrate a new Internet-based television system called IP2TV. The portable set-top box will allow subscribers to access more than 200 broadband TV channels, as well as a password-protected service for adult content.

IPTV, or Internet Protocol Television, delivers programming through a broadband Internet connection. Users plug an Ethernet cable into a set-top box, which when connected to a television, broadcasts the content much like a cable box.

IP2TV is the brainchild of Williams' Danish partner Lars Merland, who developed the system through his company in Spain. Williams plans to announce the North American launch of IP2TV this July at the Home Media Expo in Las Vegas.

"Lars called me in October of last year offering the North American franchise," Williams told AVN. "We've now brought everything to a working stage – when we started it was a concept. It works with standard def, and at the end of March, we'll have a box that does HD."

IP2TV is not the first device of its kind to hit the market; XTV launched a similar set-top box at the 2005 Adult Entertainment Expo. XTV later launched a mainstream arm, ITVN, which offers packaging from Starz, Encore and European sports network Setanta Sports. Williams hopes to follow suit, telling AVN that he has already closed a deal through a content aggregator to include mainstream cable channels akin to a DirecTV subscription package.

Williams is offering content providers a 50/50 revenue share for video-on-demand, an unusually high rate compared to other VOD payouts. "We're looking at multiple millions of subscribers, so it makes it a little more do-able," he said.

Last year, both AT&T and Verizon began testing their respective IPTV models in a few select markets. The difference between IP2TV and the fiber-optic networks offered by the telecom giants, Williams said, involves the bandwidth required to support the platform.

"Most consumers have 1.5 – 3MB connections in their homes," Williams explained. "AT&T and Verizon run on 8MB. Ours runs perfectly on 2MB, and it runs OK on 1 MB. So we have the first solution for global use available to anyone with DSL or a cable modem. That's the big hurrah about [IP2TV] – the low bandwidth."

Both Williams and Merland believe that IP2TV holds the potential to "revolutionize broadband TV." In addition to competing with the pay-per-view and VOD providers, Williams said that IP2TV will encompass online games, internet telephany and video conferencing. 

According to an advance press release, Spanish phone company Telefonica has already shown strong interest in IP2TV. Telefonica currently offers customers a box which can receive broadband TV, but it requires an 8MB connection that reaches only 300,000 subscribers.

Although Williams has not yet secured any adult content for IP2TV, he told AVN that he has already pitched the idea to Wicked Pictures and JM Productions. "We're going to the studios saying give us your catalog titles," he explained. "It's going to be PIN-code protected, so [subscribers] don't have to worry about their kids watching adult.

Williams and Merland invested the start-up capital for IP2TV themselves, and are now in the process of raising seed money to market the venture.

"We're just starting," Williams said. "This is just a heads-up to the adult community as to where we're going."