15.04 Europe/London, August 23, 2011 By Robert Briel

UK pay-TV revenues are fast reaching maturity, so operators must find other revenue streams to ensure growth, according to a new report from Digital TV Research. UK pay-TV revenues are forecast to reach $9.3 billion (€6.5 billion) in 2011, up by $3.3 billion on 2006. However, revenues are only expected to climb by another $250 million to reach $9.6 billion in 2016. The UK Digital TV Forecasts report states that TV ARPU will fall as operators convert subs to bundles and as competition from free multichannel services intensifies.

Report author Simon Murray commented: “Digital TV penetration has almost reached saturation point as it exceeds 95%. Free-to-air services are responsible for much of the recent digital TV growth. Digital pay-TV penetration is not expected to climb much and will remain below 58% of TV households.”

However, the number of homes taking DTT on their primary set has plateaued at about 10 million homes. In fact, the number of primary free-to-air DTT homes is forecast to decline from 2013 as homes are tempted away by other platforms. Therefore FTA DTT will lose its mantle as the most popular TV platform to pay DTH in 2014.

Sky has impressively taken pay DTH penetration beyond 36% of TV households. However, its growth will be muted in the next five years, with 1 million additional UK subs [the platform is also available in Ireland] forecast. The 10 million UK DTH subs mark will be breached in 2012. As the company increases ARPU by offering more services, DTH revenues are forecast to reach $7.80 billion in 2016, up from $7.27 billion in 2010.

Cable TV revenues peaked in 2010 – at $1.69 billion. Cable subscription and VOD revenues are forecast to be $1.54 billion in 2016, down 8.7% on 2010.

Murray added: “Although subscriber numbers will continue their slow growth [4 million subs by 2016], TV ARPU for cable subs will fall as more homes convert to bundles (therefore spending less on TV services but more overall with Virgin).”

IPTV is unlikely to ever make too much headway in the UK. Fewer than 1 million homes are forecast to pay for IPTV services by 2016. As a consequence, IPTV revenues will remain low, reaching $226 million in 2016. This report is now available from the Broadband TV News shop.