Europe - Cable Industry Delivers 18% growth in Digital TV in the first half of 2008

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 
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Digital cable TV subscriber base exceeds 16m subscribers

CANNES — Customer subscriptions for digital cable TV jumped 18 per cent to 16.3m across Europe in the first half of this year, as subscribers migrate to enhanced services.

Figures published today by Cable Europe, the cable industry association representing operators reaching more than 70m households, and compiled by Screen Digest, the media market analysts, revealed a record growth for the European cable industry in digital television.

Cable Europe, the cable industry association representing operators reaching more than 70m households, welcomed the figures as evidence that cable platforms can attract new customers for digital TV, internet and telephony services.

Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, said: “Demand for digital services is showing that customers are upgrading their older analogue services faster than ever. The new digital services enable the industry to provide a richer audience experience.”

Of Europe’s largest pay-TV markets, Screen Digest reported 32 per cent growth in Germany to 3.4m customers; 12 per cent in France and Spain to 1.6m and 1.05m customers respectively; a 15 per cent increase in the Netherlands to 1.8m; and 3 per cent growth to 3.36m customers in the highly competitive UK market.

The growth rates in digital TV services were broadly mirrored in cable internet and cable telephony, which rose 6.7 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively for Europe as a whole between the end of 2007 and June 30, 2008.

Rising digital demand contrasted with a 5 per cent decline in analogue cable TV services in the first half of the year, according to Screen Digest’s figures.

Continued cable growth is expected to strengthen the industry’s ability to secure premium content rights in the pay-TV industry. The availability of such rights could increase following regulatory changes, new channels launches and vigorous digital TV growth in several important territories.

Recent market changes include:

  • The disclosure that digital cable penetration had overtaken satellite in Germany, where the cable industry has about one million more direct digital customers than the Premiere satellite platform.
  • The continuous leadership in Spain of ONO and cable as Pay TV audience leader, with an audience share high above those of competing technologies, such as satellite or IP TV.
  • The investigation by Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, that may see BSkyB forced to offer its premium channels to cable at regulated wholesale prices.

Mr Kohnstamm, at Mipcom, the world’s audio-visual content market in Cannes, said: “The continued success of digital cable creates new opportunities to attract premium content which in turn is likely to drive digital cable services even further. Cable is building a new momentum for growth.”