European pay-TV subscribers top 62m

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Pay-TV subscribers in Western Europe grew by almost 13 per cent to more than 62 million during the year ending March 2009, or over 36 per cent of total TV households, according to the latest market research by Milan-based e-Media consultancy.

The fastest growing platform was IPTV, which was up more than 49 per cent since March 2008, followed by DTT, which grew by almost 20 per cent. The largest share of the 7.1 million new pay-TV subscribers opted for cable (42 per cent), followed by IPTV (40 per cent) and DTT (14 per cent).

The best IPTV performers were France Télécom (almost 250,000 net additions), Deutsche Telekom (241,000), Telecom Italia (more than 100,000 subscribers or 20 per cent up on last year) and Belgacom (83,000 subscribers, closing on the 600,000 subscriber mark in Belgium alone). On the downside, BT showed signs of a slowdown (57,000 net additions) while Telefònica added only 15,000 net subscribers in Czech Republic and Spain.

In Scandinavia, pay-TV DTT subscribers were up by some 119,000 units during the year ending March 2009, exceeding 1.18 million total units. However, the figure was 50 per cent lower than the 239,000 net additions posted during the previous year. Finland, Norway and Sweden collectively account for more than 19 per cent of Western Europe's DTT pay-TV subscriber base.

According to e-Media, digital TV penetration in the UK was at 89.4 per cent by the end of March 2009, which was 3 percentage points higher than the corresponding period last year. Some 760,000 UK households were covered by terrestrial TV signals exclusively in digital form.

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