Global pay-TV subs to break 1BN barrier by 2020

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 25 March 2015

The worldwide pay-TV market grew 4% annually at the end of 2014 to reach 923.5 million subscribers, and will surpass a billion by 2020, says a survey from ABI Research.

ABI noted that high definition (HD) penetration was increasing across all pay-TV platforms because of the increasing number of HD channels added by operators. It calculated that HD subscribers accounted for 44% of the worldwide pay-TV subscriber base, with the highest HD penetration in Western Europe and North America and that HD penetration would reach 60% of the total pay-TV market by 2020.

sky 1The analyst calculated that in Q4 2014, US cable operators lost roughly 100,000 subscribers while Comcast gained 7,000 subscribers. The country's largest satellite TV provider, DirecTV gained 149,000 subscribers in Q4 2014, its highest net addition since 2012.

Yet despite the growth in the pay-TV subscriber base, generating $257 billion in 2014, weak currency exchange rates were resulting in a slower increase of pay-TV market service revenue, and cable and terrestrial TV markets had weaker growth rates in 2014 compared to satellite and IPTV platforms.

Looking forward to the next money-spinners, ABI observed pay-TV operators moving towards 4K/Ultra HD services, citing DirecTV's first 4K programming service without any additional monthly charges to subscribers with its HD DVR, Genie and DirecTV 4K Ready television set. In addition, it expressed optimism for online video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon were also starting to offer 4K content in late 2014. When content availability and 4KTV set adoption increase, 4K services would likely become a differentiator for pay-TV service providers, said ABI.

"As competition in the pay-TV market increases, quality of content, innovations and service pricing are among the important factors for pay-TV operators to maintain customer base," commented industry analyst Khin Sandi Lynn. "ABI Research forecasts that the global pay-TV market will generate $313 billion service revenues by 2020."