Mediaset promises more for pay-DTT

Italy’s Mediaset will continue to invest in pay-TV as part of a two-pronged strategy which has free TV as the “core” business but pay-TV as a strategic asset for the future.

Mediaset Premium, the company’s pay-DTT offering, saw revenues rise 79% in 2008, to reach €404 million. During the year, the number of active cards rose from 2.1 million to 2.8 million, rising further to reach 3.225 million by mid-March.

New deals have been signed for soccer rights, with the Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup) due to join the platform as well as new motor racing, including Grand Prix, coverage. Mediaset also plans an expansion of Premium’s pay-per-view movie offering to help it compete against News Corp’s Sky Italia. To date, over €1.7 billion has been invested in Mediaset’s digital-terrestrial service.

Breakeven for the pay-TV platform is set for 2010, with average revenue per user (ARPU) forecast to rise to €100 by that year. ARPU was up in 2008 to €80 from 2007’s €60.

Overall, Mediaset saw group profit fall 9.4% to €459 million on revenues up a meagre 4.2% to €4.251 billion.