Portugal's pay-TV thrives while Spain's flounders

Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 05-12-2013

Portugal is experiencing a very buoyant pay-TV sector, with over half its population having a cable or satellite service and this growth seems to be set to continue while in neighbouring Spain the sector has dropped half million subscriptions over the last year.

Despite going through a severe financial crisis, Portugal has added 13,000 subscriptions in Q3 2013, reaching 3.16 million pay-TV users, 1.6% more compared to the same period last year. The figures are similar to those in Spain (which had 3.7 million subscriptions in Q3), where the population is almost five times larger.

Portugal's pay-TV growth is being driven by fibre companies. According to figures from Anacom – Portugal's telecom authority – fibre platforms grew 4.3%, adding 19,000 new clients, and IPTV platforms increased 2.1%, with 12,000 new subscriptions. However, direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services dropped 0.5%.

Cable platforms are still topping the market, invoicing most of the sector's €960.5 million income. Zon Optimus is the largest pay-TV operator in the country, with a market share of 49.3%, with Portugal Telecom (41%) and Cabovisão (7.2%) completing the top-three.

Contrary to this, Spain has never been a friendly market for pay-TV. In 2012, the industry passed the four million user mark for the first time, but 2013 has again seen a fall in numbers. The market is under Canal+ control, with ONO and Movistar TV in second and third place.