Pay TV subscriptions continue to decline in Canada

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
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Subscriptions to cable, IPTV and satellite declined but revenues remained steady

  • CRTC releases 2015 financial results for Canadian cable, IPTV and satellite companies

OTTAWA-GATINEAU — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today released statistical and financial information on Canadian cable, Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and satellite companies for the year ending on August 31, 2015.

In 2015, Canadian cable, IPTV and satellite companies reported a slight decline in revenues of $11.8 million (0.1%) to $8.9 billion, while expenses increased by 1.3% to $7.2 billion. As a result, the operating margin decreased to its lowest level in five years, but remained healthy at 19%. These companies employed 27,244 in 2015, down 6.3% from 2014.

Canada Pay TV Subscribers
Cable, IPTV and satellite companies garnered 11.2 million subscribers in 2015, a -1.4% (157,922 subscribers) decline from 2014. This negative trend has been accelerating since its start in 2013. Of note, subscription to IPTV services recorded a double-digit growth rate in 2015, however, these gains were insufficient to offset the combined declines in cable and satellite services.

The overall number of subscribers decreased from 11.4 million in 2014 to 11.2 million in 2015, continuing a two-year trend. However, the average total revenue per subscriber increased from $65.25 in 2014 to $66.08 per month in 2015. IPTV companies continued to grow reporting double-digit increases in subscribers for 2015.

Spending by television service providers on the creation and production of Canadian-made content decreased by $38.1 million in 2015 to $436.9 million. Of this amount, $219.6 million was directed to the Canada Media Fund, $64.7 million to independent funds and $152.6 million to community channels and other sources of local content.

Quick facts

  • In 2015, cable and IPTV companies reported revenues of $6.6 billion from programming services. This total represents an increase of 1.7 % from $6.5 billion in 2014.
  • Satellite companies’ revenues decreased by 5.2% from $2.4 billion in 2014 to $2.3 billion in 2015.
  • The number of Canadian households that subscribed to a cable or IPTV company increased from 0.3% to 8.9 million.
  • The number of Canadian households that subscribed to a satellite company’s television service decreased by 7.2% from 2.6 million to 2.4 million.
  • The operating margin for cable and IPTV companies increased from 15.8% in 2014 to 16.1% in 2015. The operating margin for the satellite companies decreased from 32% in 2014 to 27.7% in 2015.
  • Operating expenses for the cable, IPTV and satellite companies increased by 1.3% from $7.1 billion to $7.2 billion.
  • In 2015, cable and IPTV companies spent over $2.6 billion on affiliation payments for the pay and specialty services they carry. This total represents a 5.7% increase compared to the $2.5 billion spent in 2014.
  • Satellite companies’ affiliation payments decreased by 2.9% from $809 million in 2014 to $786 million in 2015.
  • The CRTC produces a series of reports annually that provide information on the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.
  • The CRTC recently published the financial results for specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services, conventional television stations and AM and FM radio stations.
  • The CRTC’s annual reports help interested parties to stay informed about the state of the Canadian communication industry and participate in the CRTC’s public consultations.

The CRTC’s report on cable, IPTV and satellite companies does not include information on Internet access, telephone services and other non-programming items. The CRTC will publish information on these services in the upcoming edition of the Communications Monitoring Report, in fall 2016.