Majority of global TV goes digital

Editor | 22-11-2013

New research from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is claiming to have unveiled a tipping point for the TV market marking a ‘massive shift’ from analogue to digital.

The agency’s flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2013, found that 55% of households with a TV now receiving a digital signal compared with just 30% in 2008, with the actual tipping point reached last year.

Looking at specific regions, the ITU found that around 81% of total households with a TV now receive a digital signal and in the developing world, the number of households receiving digital TV almost tripled in the four-year period from 2008 to end 2012, reaching 42%. ITU figures show that there were an estimated 1.4 billion households with at least one TV set by end 2012.

The number of pay-TV subscriptions worldwide increased by 32% between 2008 and 2012, overtaking free-to-air TV in 2011. There were a total of 728 million pay-TV subscriptions by the end of 2012, meaning that 53% of all households with a television had a pay-TV subscription.

Discerning the trends revealed, the survey found that traditional multichannel TV platforms, such as cable and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite, are facing increasing competition from IPTV service providers and even digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels. At the same time, added challenges are coming from over-the-top (OTT) audio-visual content providers such as YouTube, Netflix and China’s PPLive service, as well as traditional broadcasting stations that now offer online streaming or downloading of TV and video content.

The technology with the highest relative growth was IPTV, with total subscriptions increasing more than fourfold over the four-year period. In absolute terms, however, IPTV still represents a marginal share of total households with a TV, accounting for just 5% in 2012.

“New technologies are creating a plethora of new platforms for content sharing, which in turn is making television much more accessible over a wide range of devices,” said Hamadoun I Touré, secretary-general, ITU. “This is very important in the developing world, where TV continues to play an important role in education and knowledge-sharing.”