Cable ignores recession

Chris Forrester

European economies may be melting down but cable is enjoying boom times, says a new study from Screen Digest.

The latest research from media analyst Screen Digest, carried out in collaboration with trade body Cable Europe, reveals that Europe’s cable industry showed strong performance in 2008, experiencing an increase in total revenues of 5.4%, considering the challenging economic climate. Total revenue reached €18.8bn in Europe during 2008, of which €17.4bn was generated by European Union countries.

The last few years have seen competition intensifying in the TV market with new IPTV, satellite and DTT services vying with cable. The result has been a slowing of growth in the number of households with cable but an increase in ARPU explained by a higher uptake of triple-play services.

Triple-play has had a crucial role in maintaining growth across Europe’s cable markets, enabling revenue growth even in markets where the core subscriber base is declining. The average number of services taken by subscriber is 1.29 in Europe overall, 1.40 in the EU and 1.42 in Western Europe. This suggests that cable operators still have ample margin for triple-play growth. At present, triple-play is most popular in the UK and Spain.

Screen Digest says it believes that digital cable TV will continue to drive revenue over the coming years. The UK remains Europe’s largest digital cable TV market with 3.5m digital homes, followed by Germany with 3.3m directly served digital homes and the Netherlands at 2m homes.

At the end of 2008 ARPU in the European Union stood at €21.54, compared to €20.79 in 2007 and €21.90 in Europe as a whole up from €21.06 in 2007.

There remains a contrast between Western and Eastern Europe in terms of revenues and earnings per subscriber, with overall ARPU in Western Europe at €24.05, compared to €14.14 in Eastern Europe.