Pay-TV Subs Rise, Revenues to Stay Flat

Pay-TV subscribers across 89 countries will increase by 200 million between 2014 and 2020, says Digital TV Research. There were 704 million subscribers in 2014, and are forecast to be 904 million by 2020.

The world’s largest pay-TV operator is China Radio & TV, with 198 million subscribers at the end of 2014. The company will soon represent every radio and TV home in China, the company said, due to the government’s cable TV consolidation policy. 252 million subs are expected by 2020, an increase of 54 million.

IPTV operators China Telecom and BesTV will follow China Radio & TV, with 14.7 million and 13.2 million new subscribers, respectively. In fact, 130 million new subscribers will be added by 12 operators from China and India over the time period.

Global subscriber growth will be impressive, but there will still be losses. DTVR believes that 79 (23%) of the 338 operators will lose subscribers. Korea’s CJ Hellovision will drop the most (827,000), followed by Germany’s Unitymedia (592,000) and Romania’s RCS-RDC (477,000). Very broadly, APAC operators will enjoy strong growth, while those in North America and Western Europe will suffer.

Despite the subscriber gain, subscription and VoD revenues will remain flat over the period, at $183 billion. 34 of the pay-TV operators earned over $1 billion in revenues in these segments in 2014.

When operators are ranked in subscription and VoD revenue terms, the influence of Chinese and Indian operators shrinks. Led by DirecTV, the US will occupy six of the top 10 positions in both 2014 and 2020.

Five operators will add more than $500 million in revenues over the period, including Chin Radio & TV ($2.16 billion). However, 97 operators (29%) will lose revenues. These include Comcast ($4.6 billion), Time Warner ($2.3 billion) and DirecTV ($1.8 billion).

Top Five Pay-TV Operators by Subscribers (000s)
Operator Region 2014 Operator Region 2020
China Radio & TV China 197,905 China Radio & TV China 251,654
Liberty Global Multiple 24,337 China Telecom China 27,991
Comcast USA 22,386 BesTV China 25,120
DirecTV USA 20,352 Liberty Global Multiple 23,900
DirecTV/Sky LATAM 19,109 DirecTV/Sky LATAM 23,156
Source: Digital TV Research