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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 16, 2012

European Cable Operator Growth Prospects Might be Quite Different from North America

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

There is some concern in some quarters, that consumer demand for video entertainment services in Europe is coming under pressure as the Eurozone economic crisis trickles down to typical consumers.

But others think video entertainment is about to supplant broadband access as the key growth driver for European cable operators.

That would be a somewhat surprising development, given trends in the U.S. market, where services for business customers are the next expected driver of growth. 

The concern about prospects for video revenue departs from rather consistent predictions made as recently as 2009, when Arthur D. Little - Exane BNP Paribas suggested that, by 2015, European incumbents' revenue derived from entertainment video, video on demand and advertising could reach around €4 billion, about seven percent of their current revenues (€2.7 per month per fixed line).

The Western European pay-TV market amounted to $37.5 billion in 2011, and is expected to expand to $47.8 billion in 2015, according to IHS Screen Digest.

Video entertainment average revenue per user has been under pressure, The Register (News - Alert) argues. In part, that may be because consumers in Europe have less "love" for television than consumers in North America. “On-demand was once heralded as a golden age for pay-TV revenues, but buy rates remain lower than anticipated," Digital TV Research would argue

Not everyone would agree, though. IHS Screen Digest figures might indicate video entertainment revenue still is growing, and some of the ARPU decline might be because of dual-play and triple-play bundle pricing.

Guy Bisson, research director, television, IHS (News - Alert) Screen Digest, said European cable operators had seen a 10 percent increase in broadband and telephony revenue compared with an 18 percent increase in digital TV revenues in early 2012. 

Just under half of all European cable subscribers take digital TV services. “After prolonged focus on broadband, cable is coming full circle back to its roots, television," says Bisson. 

That would be a significantly-different growth pattern from that expected in North America. 

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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