Pay-TV growth slows in Asia-Pacific, though OTT, IPTV show promise
Rebecca Hawkes
| 05 May 2014
The growth of digital pay-TV in the Asia-Pacific is slowing, particularly in China, India and Thailand, however broadband expansion is increasing the regional demand for IPTV and OTT services, according to Media Partners Asia (MPA).

The Asian pay-TV sector added an estimated 26 million new customers in 2013 – the lowest annual growth rate since 2007 – Vivek Couto, executive director of the consultancy, told attendees of the Asia Pacific Operators Summit in Bali.

MPA now expects a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for pay-TV growth in the region, with pay-TV penetration to increase to 60% by 2018 from a 52% market share in 2013.

The growth of wireless broadband use in China, India and Indonesia is driving an increased consumption of video content however, while the Asia Pacific is expected to witness a significant rise in fixed broadband subscribers – particularly in China, India, Thailand, Philippines and Australia – to reach 400 million by 2018, from 310 million in 2013.

The first two phases of India’s mandatory cable TV network digitisation programme boosted pay-TV growth in 2012, although currency depreciation and the macro environment worked in part to slow growth in 2013.

“Now we see the next delayed phase of digitisation that is phase III, boosting net new subscribers to eight million a year in 2015 and seven million in 2016 before decelerating again by 2018,” said Couto.

India has more than 60 million active paying digital TV subscribers, with 37 million of these direct to home (DTH) satellite customers and 23 million to cable TV providers, he added.

New subscriptions slowed in South East Asia from 3.7 million in 2012 to 1.9 million in 2013, although MPA expects net additions to accelerate again in the region to up to 2.5 million a year driven mainly by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The Thai market is expected to suffer from disruption, and pay-TV growth in Vietnam and Singapore are expected to be minimal.

IPTV services in China added 5.6 million subscribers in 2013, driven by improved content and increasing broadband reach. This, and the growth of over the top (OTT) video services from operators such as Wasu, LeTV, XiaoMi and BesTV, has had a detrimental effect on the growth of cable TV subscriptions in the country, according to MPA.

“Looking at the macro landscape, you can see pay-TV penetration marginally improve in China over the next five years and this will deliver real pay models, driven largely by IPTV. It might improve further as operators become challenged by the new regulatory policy that establishes a set-top box internet-TV model,” said Couto.

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