50 operators control two-thirds of global pay TV subs

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 
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The top 100 operators accounted for three-quarters of the world’s pay TV subscribers by end-2015, with this proportion not expected to change over the next five years. The top 10 operators took 42% by end-2015, according to the Global Pay TV Operator Forecasts report.

Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “By end-2015, 12 operators had more than 10 million paying subscribers, and this will climb to 18 operators by 2021. However, the number of operators with more than 5 million subscribers will stay at 29.”

Source: Digital TV Research. Note: This chart shows the concentration of pay TV subscribers by operator, so the top 10 operators accounted for 42% of global pay TV subs by end-2015.

Pay TV subscriptions for the world’s top 400 operators with 585 platforms across 100 countries will increase from a collective 778 million in 2015 to 912 million by 2021. These operators took 84% of the 928 million global subscribers by end-2015, with this level expected to inch up to 85% of the 1,076 million by 2021. Only 93 (23%) of the 400 operators will lose subscribers between 2015 and 2021.

Top five pay TV operators by subscribers by country (000)

Operator                  Country     2015   Operator                  Country     2021
------------------------  -------  -------   ------------------------  -------  -------
China Radio & TV (cable)  China    239,000   China Radio & TV (cable)  China    250,719
China Telecom (IPTV)      China     22,948   China Telecom (IPTV)      China     39,217
Comcast (total)           USA       22,347   BesTV (IPTV)              China     23,530
DirecTV (satellite)       USA       19,784   Comcast (total)           USA       21,991
Charter merged (cable)    USA       17,062   DirecTV (satellite)       USA       19,579

Source: Digital TV Research. Note: paying subscribers only. This chart is for single countries and does not include multiple territory operators

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 239 million subs by end-2015. The operator will soon represent every cable TV home in China, with 251 million subscribers expected by 2021.

Murray continued: “Despite adding 147 million subscribers between 2015 and 2021, subscription and VOD revenues for the 400 operators will remain flat at $206 billion. These operators accounted for 83% of the global total in 2015, but this proportion will fall to 80% by 2021. In fact, 115 of the 400 operators (29%) will lose subscription and PPV revenues between 2015 and 2021.”