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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 01, 2013

Pay TV Subscribers Grow in BRIC Countries, Drop in West

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

The number of pay TV subscribers is growing in Brazil, Russia, India, and China, collectively known as the “BRIC” countries, according to a new report by Infonetics Research (News - Alert).

The growth in subscribers in these countries comes as the number of subscribers in North America and Western Europe has dropped. Pay TV operators took in $287 billion worldwide last year, a 10 percent jump over the previous year. Cable made up most of the revenue, but satellite providers are expected to jump to 40 percent by 2017. IPTV over telcos was the fastest growing of the pay TV market, expected to grow by 19 percent through 2017.

DirecTV (News - Alert) and Comcast are the market leaders, with Comcast having the most subscribers and DirecTV having the highest average revenue per user.

“Thanks to strong momentum mostly in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China — pay-TV revenue and subscribers continue to grow in the face of mounting cable subscriber losses in North America and Western Europe, where pay-TV providers are in danger of being relegated to the role of content aggregator,” Jeff Heynen, principal analyst for broadband access and pay TV at Infonetics, said.

A small but tech-savvy group of these people, known as “cord-cutters” for their adamant refusal to sign up for cable and satellite, make up about 5 percent of the TV viewing market. “Mad Men” episodes are exactly the same on Netflix as they are on cable video-on-demand services, after all.

Netflix has creating its own original programming, including the drama “House of Cards,” a revival of the cult TV comedy “Arrested Development,” as well as the new critically acclaimed show “Orange (News - Alert) is the New Black,” with more content forthcoming.

Despite the drop in subscribers in the region, the number of pay TV subscribers around the world grew by 7 percent to 730 million.

To stay competitive, Pay TV operators have to improve their own services. “To stem the subscriber losses,” Heynen said. “Incumbent MSOs including Comcast, Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable, and UPC are introducing new services, like home automation and multi-screen video to reduce subscriber churn and generate top-line revenue growth, in addition to deploying new technologies to lower the capex required to deliver broadcast video.”

Last year was the first time digital subscribers outnumbered analog. Infonetics cited the European Union’s shift to digital TV as the main reason.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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