Russian pay-TV: surprising new trends

April 21, 2014 08.01 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul

MTSMTS bucked the trend in Russia’s pay-TV market in 2013, losing subscribers while all its competitors added to their customer base.

Data produced by iKS Consulting and published by Kommersant shows that MTS ended 2013 with 2.58 million pay-TV subscribers, down by 12% on the 2.94 million total a year earlier.

MTS puts this loss down to the digitisation of its networks in the regions.

However, iKS Consulting also says that MTS is moving faster than the competition in moving from analogue to digital in order to attract more high-paying customers.

What is more, MTS’ digital subscriber total more than tripled to over 600,000 in 2013 and it now accounts for a quarter of the pay-TV total, which is the highest in the industry.

By comparison, ER Telecom’s digital TV subscribers account for only some 15% of total pay-TV customers.

These changes at MTS mean that it will have lost its status as one of the top three providers of pay-TV services in Russia as of Q1 this year, being overtaken by ER Telekom.

Although MTS earned more revenues than ER Telekom in 2103, it is likely to be overtaken by the cable operator by the end of this year.

Looking at the pay-TV market as a whole in Russia, iKS Consulting says that it grew by 16% in 2013 to R54 billion (€1.09 billion).

At the same time, the number of subscribers increased by 11% to 34.6 million.

However, while revenues are projected to rise to R59 billion this year, grow is likely to fall by six percentage points as providers find it increasingly difficult to attract customers.

The DTH platform Orion Express was one of the big success stories on 2013, increasing its subscribers base from 1.05 million to 1.98 million by reducing its subscription fee to the level charged by its competitor and market leader Tricolor TV.