Advanced Television

Spain spurns pay-TV

May 15, 2013

From David Del Valle in Madrid

Pay-TV business in Spain is not going well. In the first quarter of the year the pay-TV market lost 98,000 subscribers as a whole with the financial crisis, higher taxes and less money in consumers’ hands being the main reasons behind the sharp fall.

The leading pay-TV operator Canal Plus lost 28,000 subs to 1.69 million, the lowest subscription level in its history. The second largest pay-TV operator, the cable company ONO, lost 19,000 subs whereas Telefonica’s IPTV service Movistar Imagenio lost 51,000 subscribers and now has less than 700,000 subscribers. Overall, including other pay-TV operators, the Spanish pay-TV market now has around 3.5 million subscribers, with a penetration of only 20 per cent of the market.

More specifically, the pay DTT market has become a fiasco. Pay DTT has failed to make a mark in the Spanish market with only 2 pay DTT channels currently operating: Mediapro-owned football TV channel Gol TV and AXN dedicated to films.

The government’s green light in 2009 to the launch of a pay DTT offer in parallel with the free-to-air DTT platform (with around 40 TV channels) meant high expectations about an attractive pay DTT line-up but many channels never came to reality.

The fierce battle over pay-TV football rights between Prisa, owner of Canal Plus, and Mediapro, owner of Gol TV and shareholder in the FTA channel La Sexta, and the price war between them to capture subscribers to both Canal Plus 2, the pay DTT version of Canal Plus, and Gol TV undermined the pay DTT market and made both companies bite the dust. In 2011, Canal Plus 2 closed down with only 1,200 subscribers.

At the end of 2012, Gol TV had 290,246 subscribers, down 25 per cent in comparison with the previous year with 383,000 subscribers, according to the CMT, the Telecommunications Market Commission.

The current reorganisation of the DTT map in the country, following the Government’s decision to revoke 9 DTT licences, may endanger even more the future of pay DTT in Spain and may mean the virtual disapperance of pay DTT.


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