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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 28, 2013

Worldwide Pay-TV Continues to Grow

By Jerry Biolchini, TMCnet Contributing Writer

TV subscriptions, whether through satellite or cable, continue to grow and have reached 804 million worldwide pay-TV subscriber households. Overall the market grew 8 percent, with the largest growth in Asia. Specifically, there was significant growth in China, India and Vietnam. North America and Western Europe experienced little or no growth in cable TV households.

These statistics would argue that “cord cutting” or not watching TV through a cable provider is a fad or an empty threat. The global numbers do suggest that the idea of cord cutting is a blip on the radar, until one considers what is really needed in order to fully remove cable TV.

Cord cutters require a more hardened and built-up infrastructure. It requires a robust, high-speed Internet service, set-top boxes in the home, and companies that are able to deliver digital content over the Internet. With Netflix and Apple’s (News - Alert) iTunes nearly everywhere, this part is not the problem, but the hardened Internet service may be. New and emerging TV markets may not have the digital backbone that is required to stream video content. There is also the investment homeowners have to make in their own home to be able to watch only streaming media, such as a set-top box like Apple TV, or a large 25-inch computer monitor. 

Even still, cord cutting is not a myth. The telling statistic is the near-flat growth in North America and Europe where high speed Internet exists, and the fact that streaming digital media is becoming very popular. The Leichtman Research Group released a study that showed TV business lost 80,000 subscribers in 2012. This number is insignificant next to the 94 million TV service customers, but it is not when it was the first time the industry lost subscribers over a 12-month period.   It may not be amazing or the death knell for the industry, but it is a telling number. Is this a trend? 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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