Global digital pay-TV subs top 1BN
Rebecca Hawkes
| 21 March 2018

Paid subscriptions to digital cable, satellite and IPTV television services worldwide have exceeded one billion for the first time, driven largely through growth in the Asia Pacific.

China’s growing IPTV market helped drive the digital pay-TV subscriber base in the Asia Pacific, which accounted for 83% of the world’s net additions in 2017, according to new research from IHS Markit.

The growth comes despite significant attraction globally to video content on subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, which added more than three times the number of subscriptions than pay-TV services.

This trend was replicated in the Asia Pacific, where there were three new over-the-top (OTT) subscriptions for every new pay-TV subscription in 2017 thanks to an increase in smartphone penetration and improvements in mobile data accessibility and affordability in the region.

“Although pay-TV reached a new high, OTT net subscriber additions outstripped net pay-TV subscriptions in most regions globally,” said Fateha Begum, association director of television media, HIS Markit. “Traditional pay-TV operators have shown resilience in the face of increased competition, through continued investment in set-top functionality, exclusive content and on-demand services.”

Western Europe added eight OTT subscriptions for every pay-TV net addition, while the number of new subscribers to OTT and pay-TV services was equal in Central and Eastern Europe.

OTT penetration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to make rapid growth in the coming years from a low starting point, as both international and local players add original content and partner with local telcos and pay-TV operators, said IHS Markit.

“We expect to see OTT subscriptions growing globally over the next five years, as Amazon and Netflix continue to invest in local and localized content, and as virtual pay-TV operators start to appear and grow outside the US,” commented Irina Kornilova, principal analyst of home entertainment, HIS Markit.

Unlike other regions, digital pay-TV subscriptions in North America continued to decline, losing three million homes in 2017. Conversely, OTT subscriptions increased by nearly 30 million. “Pay-TV services in North America continue to be affected by cord cutting, primarily due to higher average prices for pay-TV subscriptions, compared to other global regions,” added Begum.