Liberty Global and BSkyB to continue to dominate European pay TV

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 
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Pay TV subscriptions for the 95 operators across 25 countries covered in a new report from Digital TV Research will increase from a collective 96.2 million in 2007 to 140.9 million by 2017. The European Pay TV Operator Forecasts report concentrates on paying subscribers.

Top five European pay TV operators by subscribers (000)

                                   2011                                     2017
                                 ------                                   ------
UPC                Various*      15,083  UPC                Various*      14,496
BSkyB              UK & Ireland  10,471  Tricolor           Russia        11,745
Kabel Deutschland  Germany        8,365  BSkyB              UK & Ireland  11,490
Tricolor           Russia         6,930  Kabel Deutschland  Germany        8,021
Rostelecom         Russia         5,800  Rostelecom         Russia         5,629

*Germany (Unity), Belgium (Telenet), Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Ireland, Slovakia, Czech, Hungary

Source: Digital TV Research

Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Despite losing TV subscribers, UPC/Liberty Global will remain Europe’s largest pay TV operation by some distance. Germany’s Unitymedia will lead the way for Liberty Global.”

Murray continued: “UPC/Liberty Global will not be the only operator to experience falling TV subscriber numbers between 2011 and 2017. In fact, this will happen for 31 of the 95 operators covered in this report – or a third of the total. Subscriber numbers will fall for various reasons, the most common of which is increased competition. Traditional pay TV operators now face greater rivalry than ever before – either from other pay TV platforms such as IPTV or satellite or from “free” multichannel TV services such as DTT and online TV and video.”

Declining subscriber numbers will affect cable operators more than other operators. Many of these established players have the legacy of a large analog subscriber base. Although most of these homes are expected to convert to digital packages from the same operator, some will be tempted to migrate to other platforms. This is especially true of the ‘refusniks’, who do not want to pay any more for TV services and may be most attracted to free-to-air DTT.

BSkyB (available in the UK and Ireland) will drop from second to third in the subscriber ranking, although its subscriber count will increase between 2011 and 2017.

Russia’s Tricolor will move up from fourth in 2011 to second place in 2017 by adding nearly 5 million subscribers. The low-cost DTH player also has many “subscribers”, which do not pay to receive the service and have therefore not been included in this report.

Total subscription and VOD revenues for the 95 operators increased from US$26.0 billion in 2007 to US$33.7 billion in 2011. However, the total will only reach US$35.4 billion by 2017.

Subscription and VOD revenues will fall for 35 of the 95 operators (37%) covered in this report between 2011 and 2017. These revenues are for subscriptions and VOD only, and therefore do not include other revenues such as broadband, telephony, advertising, equipment sales and rental, etc.

These revenues will fall (or at least slow in growth) for numerous reasons, including greater competition, which will see operators reduce package prices (and often the number of channels on offer) to retain existing subscribers and/or attract new subscribers. Another major factor is the operators’ drive to convert their subscribers to triple-play and double-play bundles, which are more lucrative to them overall than standalone TV subs but mean lower TV ARPUs (average revenue per user).

BSkyB will remain at the top of the revenues’ league, recording US$7.2 billion subscription and VOD revenues by 2017. UPC will stay in second place and will remain someway behind.

Top five European pay TV operators by subscription & VOD revenues (US$ million)

                                   2011                                     2017
                                 ------                                   ------
BSkyB              UK & Ireland   6,670  BSkyB              UK & Ireland   7,185
UPC                Various*       3,298  UPC                Various*       3,109
CanalSat           France         2,869  Sky Italia         Italy          2,745
Sky Italia         Italy          2,615  CanalSat           France         2,547
Kabel Deutschland  Germany        1,563  Kabel Deutschland  Germany        1,635

*Germany (Unity), Belgium (Telenet), Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Ireland, Slovakia, Czech, Hungary

Source: Digital TV Research

More: European Pay TV Operator Forecasts

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