Published: 08.37 Europe/London, May 23, 2011

11.3 million pay-TV subscribers were added at the end of first quarter of 2011, according to ABI Research. “By the end of 2011, the total number of pay-TV subscriptions is expected to exceed 759 million,” said practice director Jason Blackwell of ABI Research.

Cable TV still maintains the largest market share. However, its relative share of subscriptions dropped from 72% in 2009 to 69% in 2010. Cable TV operators in Western Europe and North America in particular faced subscriber losses in 2010 as new television services such as telco TV and online TV replaced traditional cable TV services.

However, in emerging markets such as Latin America, cable TV will continue its growth. As an example, Brazil, a country with more than 59 million households, has only about 17% pay-TV penetration. Many parts of Brazil still have no access to cable TV services. In a plan recently released by the country’s telecom regulator, cable TV penetration is expected to reach 10% in 2011.

Analogue switch-off is taking place across the world. The momentum of the process is especially high in Western Europe, with the UK and Italy expecting to complete analogue switch-off in 2012. Asia-Pacific countries such as China and India have taken the first steps to switch off analogue transmissions, and the process is expected to be complete by 2015.

“The emergence of digital TV in different pay-TV platforms begins to offer more choices to consumers,” noted research analyst Khin Sandi Lynn. “Digital terrestrial TV channels and HDTV channels are gaining popularity in pay-TV markets. ABI Research expects that there will be more than 230 million HDTV subscriptions across different platforms at the end of 2011.”