Asia-Pac pay-TV overtakes the rest of the world
Subscriptions for TV services in the Asia-Pacific region have reached 326 million, up 26 million in 2009 alone, and have now overtaken the rest of the world combined – at last according to the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA).
Of those 326 million, 115 million homes now have digital TV. Digital penetration stands at 35% across 14 markets.
China and India account for much of the growth, and for most of the subscriptions – 90% of all Asian pay-TV subscribers in 2009. India has 19 million digital pay-TV homes, while China has 69 million digital video connections.
Growth has also been spurred by 18 new pay-TV platforms in the past 18 months. New operators, many of which are from the growing IPTV sector, are: Hikari TV (Japan); Korea Telecom and SK Telecom (Korea); Cignal (PLDT), G-Sat (Global Destiny), PLDT/Smart (MyTV) (Philippines); Aora-TV and Okevision (Indonesia); Top Up TV (Next Step Co.) (Thailand); VSTV (VTV/Canal Overseas), VTC (HD channels), HTV (Ho Chi Minh TV), FPT Telecom and VNPT (Vietnam National Posts & Telecom) (Vietnam); Telecom Malaysia (Malaysia); Reliance, Videocon and Bharti Reliance (India).
Despite the good news, however, there remains a huge problem with piracy in the region. Growth in subscriptions as pay-TV becomes more attractive has meant a simultaneous increase in piracy. CASBAA’s annual piracy survey of 15 markets generated an updated estimate of US$1.94 billion in annual revenue losses across the region, up from US$1.75 billion last year.
Lee Beasley, Director of Media & Entertainment, Origination & Client Coverage at Standard Chartered Bank, which partnered CASBAA for the research, said: “This estimate uses highly conservative assumptions; actual totals are likely to be much higher.”
As new markets open, previously hidden pockets of piracy have become apparent. Indonesia is one such territory, with local industry and government paying increasing attention to pay-TV signal theft in the last year. “Likewise, Vietnam is going through the same process,” said Beasley.
But piracy in Hong Kong and Manila in the Philippines has declined as cable operators have deployed new digital transmission systems.
Tax specialists at PricewaterhouseCoopers claim that the revenue leakage from the legitimate pay-TV industry cost regional governments at least US$247 million in uncollected taxes. The biggest revenue losers were the governments in Thailand (US$76 million), Pakistan (US$56 million) and the Philippines (US$39 million).