Television

India in Top 4 of growing cable markets

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MUMBAI: So much for those who have been critical of India's buoyant cable TV sector which has been grown by sheer private enterprise and without any government support. India has emerged as among the Top Four cable TV markets in the world with its close to 50 million CATV subscriber base. This has been revealed in a study done by a US-based research firm In-Stat/MDR.



The top four countries in terms of total cable TV subscribers are China, United States, India and Germany.



The report has stated that cable TV globally grew at three per cent in 2003 which is its slowest growth in a decade. The North American cable TV market actually shrank a little in 2003, as several hundred thousand former cable subscribers either switched to satellite services or simply pulled the plug on cable.



Most of the new growth in cable TV is coming from Asia particularly from China and India that have been accounting for up to 60 per cent of all annual subscriber additions over the past three years, the report stated. It expects total cable TV subscribers to reach 395 million by 2007.



According to In-Stat/MDR cable TV subscriber growth will be fuelled by not only cable television operators ability to attract new subscribers to their traditional analog video services, but also migration to the recently deployed digital video, voice, and data services. The report states that global digital cable TV subscriber growth raced ahead 22 per cent in 2003, with the North American digital cable TV subscriber market increasing by 20 per cent.



Even with rapid digital subscriber growth, the modest total subscriber growth rate is forcing many cable TV operators to re-focus their customer acquisition strategies, InStat-MDR cautions.



"Cable television growth in North America and Europe has dramatically flattened over the past two to three years, and this has been an unwelcome trend for many cable TV Multiple Systems Operators (MSOs) who have been counting on new subscribers to increase their revenues," says In-Stat/MDR senior analyst Mike Paxton.



The biggest threat to long term growth of cable TV growth is coming from DTH satellite services, the report highlights, apart from the regional economic recessions. However, according to Paxton, "The good news for cable operators is that the digital revolution is bringing both new services to cable customers and new sources of revenue to cable operators."



These digital cable offerings cover services such as: expanded channel lineups, video-on-demand, High Definition TV services, and high-speed data services. A key challenge for cable operators is that the cost to upgrade cable plants in order to provide these digital transmissions is substantial. This high cost, in turn, has slowed the overall pace of digital upgrades and has limited digital cable TV service to a few of the wealthier countries in the world.

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