“Continuous decline” in satellite DTH reach

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Analysts at Dataxis have recently published their Q1 statistics on the European pay-TV market, and say that the total subscriber numbers rose just 0.3 per cent compared to Q4/2017.

This has prompted a note to clients from investment bank Exane/BNPP which points out that this is the lowest net growth ever observed by Dataxis.

The bank’s media analysts say: “In terms of broadcasting technology, Dataxis estimates the number DTH satellite subscribers at 56.6 million in Europe in Q1/2018. That is 30.6 per cent of total pay-TV homes. The change in the number of DTH satellite subscribers amounts to a fall of -0.7 per cent on Q4/17, -1.0 per cent on Q1/17 and -0.2 per cent on Q1/16.”

“In Q1/18, Dataxis estimates that Sky Group (served by SES in the UK and Germany and by Eutelsat in Italy) and that Russia’s Tricolor (served by Eutelsat) have lost 140,000 and 80,000 satellite DTH subscribers respectively. Cable distribution and DTT are down 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively on Q4/17 and account for 35 per cent and 3 per cent of all pay-TV subscribers. IPTV and OTT are up 2 per cent and 1 per cent on Q4/17 or 10 per cent and 50 per cent y-o-y. IPTV now accounts for 28 per cent of all European pay-TV subscribers while OTT amounts to 3 per cent.”

The bank notes that pay-TV is only a subset of satellite’s overall reach. “Free-to-Air DTH (commercial and public broadcasters) and cable & IPTV distribution complement satellite reach. For instance, SES estimates that its services reaches 62 million satellite homes in Europe as well as a further 61 million cable and 31 million IPTV homes. However, we believe that vast majority of the revenues satellite operators generate from video broadcasting comes from the DTH market (rather than cable and IPTV head-ends feeding),” says Exane.

The sting, however, is in the last paragraph of the bank’s note, which says that Dataxis’ data is “consistent with our core scenario which assumes a moderate but continuous decline in satellite reach rate in coming quarters but stability in transponder pricing (gate keeper argument).”


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