Pay-TV weathers the recession storm in Europe

MUMBAI: Despite consumer belt-tightening, Pay-TV has weathered the recession storm and seen consistent growth throughout the 19 Western European countries.

Overall, the pay-TV subscriber base has expanded by almost 11 per cent a year in Western Europe since 2008 reaching 73 million, or 42 per cent of all TV households.
Over the same period (2008-2010), thanks to digital switchovers, analogue TV shrank from 40 per cent to a mere 18 per cent of Western European TV households.

In total, 31 million households still need to migrate to digital TV services. While some of the most developed pay-TV markets are close to saturation, pay-TV operators are seeking more flexible offer models and battling to increase their Average Revenue Per User (Arpu) and reduce or at least stabilise the churn rate. 
Over the next three years, e-Media Institute forecasts a progressive slowdown in pay-TV expansion. Average pay-TV subscriber growth is set to drop to between four and five per cent from 2011 to 2014. However some large countries, like Italy and Spain, will still hold room for growth.

Development of HD line-ups, non-linear PVR/DVR services as well as broadband-delivered multi-screen TV in a Pay-TV Everywhere (Pay-TVE) and Mobile Pay-TV set-up, seem to be the next must-add services for pay-TV operators to increase the loyalty of their customers and, again, try to raise Arpus. IP delivered content is also helping to level the playing field between pure broadcast platforms (i.e. satellite, terrestrial) and bi-directional IPTV or cable networks.

The last few quarters have seen Pay-OTT TV services flourishing in Europe and now all major European satellite pay-TV operators have added on-demand TV capability, enabling them to compete with telcos and cable operators on a more equal footing.

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