Spanish pay-TV down again

Iñaki Ferreras

The economic crisis is affecting many aspects of Spain's telecommunications market, with pay-TV (cable, satellite and IPTV) suffering. More than 40,000 subscribers signed off their contracts from their pay TV operators in the first quarter of 2009, according to a report by regulator the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT).

In March there were 3,982,249 pay-TV subscribers compared with 4,021,089 in the previous quarter. This loss is the highest over the last year: in Q1 last year there were 3,952,233; in Q2 this figure rose to 4,033,795 and in the next quarter the downturn reached 4,031,287.

But in Q1 this year the pay-TV operators lost subscribers. Sogecable lost about 33,000 for a total of 2,011,295; the country's main cable operator Ono lost 23,000 in the same period for a total of 1,016,000; Telefónica's DSL operator Imagenio lost 8,000 for a total of 604,000 and Jazztel lost 1,000, at 7,590. The only companies to gain were smaller operators Telecable, Orange, R Cable and Euskaltel, all of whom gained clients.

One statistic gives cause for optimism, however. The report highlights a growth of more than half million purchases in pay-per-view in Q1 this year up from 6.9 million in Q4 2008 to 7.5 million in this period. In particular, purchases of PPV soccer went up to 4.3 million compared with 3.3 million in Q4 last year. However, PPV movie purchases went down to 2.8 million compared with 3.2 million. Revenues from PPV went up to €61.19 million, nearly one million more than €60.66 million in the previous quarter.

Finally, the report reflects the downturn in Spain's TV advertising sector which went from €843.55 million in the last quarter of 2008 to €630 million in Q1 this year. In particular the advertisement on public broadcasters went down to €165.28 million compared with €240 million at the end of 2008. National private broadcasters’ revenues reached €369.82 compared with €486 million.