Portugal's pay TV subscribers reached 2.3 million in 1Q09

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

According to Portugal’s Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM), at the end of March 2009 the total number of subscribers to pay TV in the country reached 2.3 million, 39 thousand more than in the previous quarter and up 257 thousand from the same quarter of 2008.

Cable television

In the first quarter of 2009, the number of subscribers to the cable television service totalled around 1.46 million subscribers, down 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter. Compared to the same quarter of 2008, this figure fell by 2.5 per cent, representing a drop of around 37 thousand in the total number of subscribers.

All the main operators saw declines to their customer base, with the exception of ZON/TV Cabo Portugal (ZON Multimedia) and some very small operators. The operators which contributed most to these results were Cabovisão, TVTel and ZON Madeira. This reduction in the number of cable TV subscribers may, in certain cases, result from substitution between service access platforms.

Cable television service subscribers (thousands):

                            4Q08            1Q09
                  --------------  --------------  Quarterly     Annual
           1Q08   Total  digital  Total  digital  variation  variation
          -----   -----  -------  -----  -------  ---------  ---------
Total     1,496   1,475      573  1,459      619      -1.1%      -2.5%

Satellite television (DTH)

At the end of 1Q09, the number of subscribers to television service using Direct To Home (DTH) technology stood at 584 thousand, 2 thousand fewer subscribers than in the previous quarters (-0.4 per cent), but 85 thousand more than in 1Q08 (+17 per cent).

In comparison to the previous quarter, with the exception of PT Comunicações, all operators saw a decline in their customer base. However the decline was especially driven by the fall in the number of ZON/TV Cabo subscribers.

The growth seen over the same period of 2008, is mostly due to the DTH offer launched by PT Comunicações.

Subscribers to satellite television distribution service (DTH) (thousands):

                          Quarterly     Annual
        1Q08  4Q08  1Q09  variation  variation 
        ----  ----  ----  ---------  ---------
Total    500   586   584      -0.4%      17.0%

Other platforms

In view of the fact that the growth of the services of television using alternative platforms outpaced the decline seen in the cable and satellite TV services, the total number of subscribers to the subscription TV service reached 2.3 million, up 39 thousand from the previous quarter and up 257 thousand from the same quarter of 2008.

Subscription television service subscribers – all technologies (thousands):

 4Q08   1Q09     change
-----  -----  ---------
2,286  2,325       1.7%

The cable TV distribution service now comprises around 63 per cent of subscribers – down 1.8 percentage points on the previous quarter, while the weight of other technologies grew by 3 percentage points to represent around 12 per cent of the total. The weight of DTH remains steady: 1 in 4 subscription TV subscribers use this technology.

Distribution of total subscribers by distribution network:

Cable    DTH  Other
-----  -----  -----
62.8%  25.1%  12.1%

Grupo ZON/TV Cabo continued to have the largest share of subscription TV subscribers – 70.1 per cent, 1.1 percentage points less than in the previous quarter. PTC has been the 2nd largest subscription TV since 4Q08 (16.5 per cent of subscribers), increasing its share by 2.9 points. The third largest operator is Cabovisão, with a share of 11.4 per cent.

Shares of subscription TV service subscribers (as percentage):

                         2Q08   3Q08   4Q08   1Q09
                        -----  -----  -----  -----
Grupo ZON/TV Cabo       74.3%  71.2%  72.3%  70.1%
PTC                      5.4%   9.6%  13.6%  16.5%
Cabovisão               14.0%  13.3%  12.4%  11.7%
TVTEL                    3.4%   3.1%      -      -
AR Telecom               0.9%   0.9%   1.0%   1.0%
Alternative providers    2.0%   1.9%   0.7%   0.7%

More: Television Subscription Services – 1st quarter 2009