Pay TV operators to add 200 million subscribers by 2020

Thursday, October 8th, 2015
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Top pay TV operators to add 200 million subs

Pay TV subscriptions for 338 operators across 89 countries will increase by 200 million from a collective 704 million in 2014 to 904 million by 2020, according to a new report from Digital TV Research. The Global Pay TV Operator Forecasts report estimates that 29 operators had more than 5 million paying subs by end-2014.

Top five pay TV operators by subscribers (000)

                                2014                                 2020
------------------------------------  -----------------------------------
China Radio & TV   China     197,905  China Radio & TV  China     251,654
Liberty Global     Multiple   24,337  China Telecom     China      27,991
Comcast            USA        22,386  BesTV             China      25,120
DirecTV            USA        20,352  Liberty Global    Multiple   23,900
DirecTV/Sky        Lat Am     19,109  DirecTV/Sky       Lat Am     23,156

Source: Digital TV Research. Note: paying subscribers only

China Radio & TV is the world’s largest pay TV operator by a long, long way. Government policy to consolidate cable TV means that China Radio & TV quickly became the world’s largest pay TV operator, with 198 million subs by end-2014. The operator will soon represent every cable TV home in China, with 252 million subscribers expected by 2020 – up by nearly 54 million on 2014.

Following China Radio & TV, IPTV operators China Telecom and BesTV will add 14.7 million and 13.2 million subs respectively. In fact, 12 operators from China and India will collectively add 130 million subscribers between 2014 and 2020.

Global subscriber growth is all the more impressive as 79 (23%) of the 338 operators will lose subscribers between 2014 and 2020. Korea’s CJ Hellovision will lose the most (827,000 subs), followed by Germany’s Unitymedia (down by 592,000) and Romania’s RCS-RDS (down 477,000). Very broadly, pay TV operators in Asia Pacific’s emerging markets will see strong growth, with North America and Western Europe suffering.

Despite adding 200 million subscribers between 2014 and 2020, subscription and VOD revenues for the 338 operators will remain flat at $183 billion. From the total, 34 pay TV operators earned more than $1 billion in subscription and VOD revenues in 2014.
The dominance of China and India is diminished when the operators are ranked in subscriptions and VOD revenue terms. Led by DirecTV (now owned by AT&T, which owned three of the top 10 operators by revenues in 2014), the US will take six of the top 10 positions in both 2014 and 2020.

China Radio & TV will add a massive $2.16 billion between 2014 and 2020. In fact, five operators will add more than $500 million in revenues. However, 97 operators (29%) will lose revenues, with Comcast (down by $4.6 billion) declining by the most – followed by Time Warner (down $2.3 billion) and DirecTV (down $1.8 billion).