Advanced Television

Analyst: W Europe pay-TV subs up, revenues down

March 26, 2018

Western European pay-TV will gain subscribers between 2017 and 2023. Although this only represents a 2.6 per cent increase, the Western Europe Pay-TV Forecasts report from Digital TV Research, estimates nearly 3 million more subs to take the total to 106 million.

“Much of the pay-TV subscriber growth will come from countries with traditionally low pay-TV penetration,” advised Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research. “More than half of the region’s next additions will come from Italy [up by 960,000 between 2017 and 2023] and Spain [up by 716,000]. Germany will add 913,000 subscribers.”

“However, subscriber numbers will fall for six of the 18 countries covered in the report,” he added. “The UK will be the worst affected, although it will only lose 234,000 subs between 2017 and 2023.”

IPTV is gaining share at the expense of the other pay-TV platforms; having overtaken satellite TV in 2015. IPTV will add 8 million subscribers between 2017 and 2023 but pay satellite TV will lose more than 2 million.

Some telcos (especially Telefónica in Spain and Canal+ in France) are actively moving their satellite TV subs to more lucrative broadband bundles. Spain and France will both lose 1 million pay satellite TV subs between 2017 and 2023. Sky will soon offer its full satellite TV line-up online. Some satellite TV subs are expected to convert to the online platform; resulting in 691,000 fewer pay satellite TV subs in the UK between 2017 and 2023.

Despite subscriptions increasing, pay-TV revenues will fall – by $2.11 billion (€1.7bn) between 2017 and 2023 to $27.27 billion.

Revenues will fall in all but three of the 18 countries covered in the report. The UK will lose $628 million over this period, although it will remain the most lucrative pay-TV market by 2023. Regardless of having the most pay-TV subs by some distance, Germany’s pay-TV revenues will remain a lot lower than the UK – at $3.61 million by 2023. Italy will overtake Germany in 2023.

Satellite TV will remain the highest-earning pay-TV platform, but its revenues will fall every year from 2011 – and will decline by $2 billion between 2017 and 2023. Mirroring its subscriber increases, IPTV revenues will climb by 16 per cent between 2017 and 2023 to $6.43 billion – or up by $883 million. Cable TV revenues peaked in 2010. Cable TV will lose $866 million between 2017 and 2023.

Western Europe’s top three operators will account for 39 per cent of the region’s pay-TV subscribers by 2023. The same companies will take 50 per cent of pay-TV revenues.

Liberty Global has been the largest international pay-TV operator in Europe for some time. However, Sky is closing the gap. By 2023, Liberty Global will have 17.89 million subscribers (including all of Ziggo) compared with Sky’s 14.86 million (satellite TV only). Third-placed Vodafone will have 8.85 million subscribers (excluding the Netherlands’ Ziggo). Vodafone may acquire at least some of Liberty Global’s European assets.

Sky will remain the pay-TV revenue leader by some distance, with $8.49 billion from its satellite TV operations in 2023. Liberty Global will contribute a further $3.91 billion and Vodafone $1.21 billion.


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