Price reduction, channel diversification and taking premium content from free-to-air (FTA) channels - this is the recipe proposed in a forum, in which representatives of Canal+, Atresmedia, Telefónica and Vodafone were present, to grow Spain's pay-TV subs from 3.8 to around ten million by 2020.
The forum, organised by newspaper El Confidencial and consultancy firm BDO, aimed to analyse a transforming market in which telcos are thriving and traditional TV cable operators are losing importance. Pay-TV penetration in Spain is one of the lowest in Europe, but the sector's main companies aren't giving up.
"In 2005 DTT started its golden age with Cuatro and laSexta and it was also the year YouTube was born, and since then users have called for a different kind of content from what the industry was offering," said Pablo Romero, content director at Canal+'s Yomvi.
Luis Velo, audiovisual content director at Telefónica, is positive about the future and predicts great growth for the sector, talking about reaching ten million subs in five years. "We need to add value to pay-TV, as well as it's being done in the US, but an effort to remove premium content from FTA also needs to be made."
From consultancy house BDO, Marino Sánchez-Cid agreed, saying that viewers have been spoiled for years, watching FTA content usually considered as premium.
The problems for Vodafone TV's manager, Isaac Mendoza, are more to do with the need to find a balance between the cost of having premium content and the income received from subscribers.
Jesús Moreno, from Atresmedia's Nubeox, pointed out the uncertainty of the sector's regulation as being one of the main issues for pay-TV. "We need to know in which league we are playing and which means we have. We cannot be so insecure about the future when we are trying to make this business profitable."