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Sky to overtake Liberty in Western Europe

Liberty Global has been the largest pay-TV operator in Europe for some time (with assets both in the West and in the East). However, its top slot in Western Europe is under threat, with Sky Europe [satellite subs only] expected to overtake its subscriber count in 2017, according to a report from Digital TV Research.

Liberty Global’s subscriber count will fall as the company has to try to convert 8 million analog cable subs in 2010 to none by 2020 – some of these subs will be lost to other digital platforms. To put it another way, Liberty Global’s analogue TV revenues [subscriptions and PPV] in Western Europe in 2010 were $1.5 billion (29 per cent of its total) – but they will fall to nothing by 2020.

Pay-TV subscriptions for the 66 operators across 15 countries covered in the Western Europe Pay-TV Operator Forecasts report will increase from a collective 82 million in 2010 to 93.1 million by 2020. Covering 98 platforms, these operators will continue to represent just under 90 per cent of Western European pay-TV subscribers.

Only 36 (55 per cent) of these operators will add to subscribers between 2014 and 2020. Traditional pay TV operators now face greater rivalry than ever before – either from other pay TV platforms such as IPTV or satellite or from “free” multichannel TV services such as DTT and OTT TV and video (such as Netflix).

Spain’s Telefonica will add 2.18 million IPTV subscribers between 2014 and 2020 to take its total to 3.84 million. The UK’s BT and TalkTalk will also gain; climbing by 999,000 and 607,000 IPTV subs respectively.

At the other end of the scale, Germany’s Unitymedia will lose 592,000 cable TV subs, followed by the Netherlands’ UPC (down by 400,000) and Sweden’s Com Hem (down by 390,000 subs). France’s TNT will lose a third of its subs, with Switzerland’s UPC/Cablecom and Finland’s Canal Digital down by a quarter.

Total subscription and VoD revenues for the 66 operators will remain at around $29 billion. These operators account for about 92 per cent of Western European pay TV revenues. Sky Europe [satellite TV subs only] will remain at the top of the revenues league, recording $10.5 billion subscription and VoD revenues by 2020.

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