CASBAA hails "digital cushion"

The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) announced new data for Asia's pay-TV market, showing 71 million digital pay-TV households out of 300 million pay-TV subscriptions across Asia. "The increase in digital pay-TV market penetration represents a tipping point for our industry in Asia," said Marcel Fenez, Chairman of CASBAA.

"This is especially relevant with regards to the control of revenue leakage since digital pay-TV creates far greater transparency – what might be termed a 'digital cushion' — which can slow the growth of pay-TV piracy, while accurately tracking pay-TV subscriptions," said Lee Beasley, Head of Media & Entertainment at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

CASBAA noted that the Asian pay-TV markets with the lowest level of revenue leakage (or piracy) are generally those with the highest percentages of digital deployment, according to the findings of the 2008 Pay-TV Piracy Survey, conducted by CASBAA in collaboration with the Creative Industries Division of Standard Chartered Bank. "For instance, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand are almost 100 per cent digital and have the lowest piracy levels," added Beasley.

According to CASBAA, the mega-markets of India and China are demonstrating an increased pick-up for digital pay-TV services. India now has 8.5 million digital pay-TV households, while China represents 34 million digital cable connections.

"India's digital pay-TV market has been driven by the recent exceptional growth in the digital DTH market but, at last, with 1.7 million digital cable subscriptions, India is finally taking off," said Fenez. While China's most recent growth was clearly driven by the Olympics, "the next trick will be to enable new premium content to enter the market to encourage increased ARPU and to stimulate additional demand," said Fenez.

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