Liberty Global, BSkyB dominate as European pay-TV defies recession

Joseph O'Halloran | 05-09-2012

Despite the continued economic hard time in Europe, pay-TV across the continent is growing with subs set to grow from a collective 96.2 million in 2007 to 140.9 million by 2017 according to Digital TV Research.

The European Pay TV Operator Forecasts report shows that the European pay-TV market is and will continue to be dominated by UPC and BSkyB as subscriber numbers will fall for various reasons, the most common of which is increased competition.

UPC is set to see pay-TV subs grow from 15.083 million at the end of 2011 to 14.496 million in 2017. By somewhat of a marked contrast, Over the same time period, UK pay-TV 800lb gorilla BSkyB is predicted to have grown only slightly from 10.4712 million subs to 11.49 million and will indeed be overtaken to number two spot by Russia’s Tricolor whose customer base will likely almost double in the 2011-2017 period to 11.745 million. One loser in the time period will be Germany’s Kabel Deutschland who is expected to see subs slip by just under 400,000 from the 8.365 million in 2011/.

Commenting on the research, author Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Despite losing TV subscribers, UPC/Liberty Global will remain Europe’s largest pay TV operation by some distance. Germany’s Unitymedia will lead the way for Liberty Global. UPC/Liberty Global will not be the only operator to experience falling TV subscriber numbers between 2011 and 2017. In fact, this will happen for 31 of the 95 operators covered in this report – or a third of the total. Traditional pay TV operators now face greater rivalry than ever before – either from other pay TV platforms such as IPTV or satellite or from “free” multichannel TV services such as DTT and online TV and video.”

Yet despite a small growth in subs, and in a clear as testament to its business prowess, BSkyB will dominate in terms of pay-TV revenues retaining its 2011 leadership by 2017 recording $7.2 billion subscription and VOD revenues. UPC will stay in second place and will remain someway behind, in fact with less than half of BSkyB’s revs with $3.109 in 2017, $189 down on 2011’s figures. The research also suggests at that by 2017, Sky Italia will be next in line with $2.745 in revenues, followed by CanalSat and Kabel Deutschland with $2.547 and $1.635 respectively.