Italy has made great strides in expanding fixed broadband coverage from 43.9 per cent in 2015 to 72.3 per cent in 2016, reducing the gap from the European average to just 3.7 percentage points.
However, on the demand side, fibre accounted for only 3 per cent of total broadband subscribers in 2016, well below the EU average (-16.7 per cent). Italy also lags behind the EU in the use of e-commerce (-21.2 per cent).
These are the main conclusions of the “Digital Italy” report published by Italy’s Competitiveness Institute (I-Com).
The audiovisual market, after years of decline, has returned to growth, with revenues slightly above €8 billion. Satellite pay-TV operator Sky Italia is the leader, accounting for 33 per cent of the market, followed by RAI, which dropped to second place (30 per cent) and Mediaset (28 per cent). Both markets, free-to-air and pay, are concentrated, with RAI and Mediaset dividing up the first, and Sky dominant in the second.
Although DTT is present in all households, the number of those who also opt for satellite TV is growing: a sign of the changing times and the presence of more advanced technologies, facilitated by Connected TVs or 4K.
Sky had 4.8 million subscribers in June 2017; Tivùsat has exceeded the threshold of 3 million active smart-cards and covers 9 per cent of Italian households.
Half of the Italian TV audience is still linked to the 7 historical channels (Rai Uno, Rai Due, Rai Tre, Rete 4, Canale 5, Italia 1 and La7). However, the FTA market keeps attracting large media groups, who obviously see big growth margins. TV8, (Sky), and Nove (Discovery) have respectively 1.7 per cent and 1.4 per cent of audience and growth prospects of 30-40 per cent growth, while other players such as Sony Pictures and Viacom are also investing in FTA channels.
Although ultra-wide broadband covers 70 per cent of the Italian territory, only 12 per cent of users subscribe to on-demand video services. In 2017, their number is expected to reach 4 million, demonstrating a dynamic industry despite still relatively low revenues (around €70 million).