A new report from Euroconsult has found growth in the global satellite pay TV market remained strong in 2009 despite the economic downturn.
The Satellite TV Platforms, World Survey & Prospects to 2019 report found the number of TV platforms in service rose to 113 in 2009 (+38% in three years). Pay TV platforms combined currently reach 131 million subscribers and earned $70 billion revenues in 2009.
“Subscriber growth in the satellite pay TV market has been robust, increasing 15% worldwide,” explained Pacôme Revillon, CEO of Euroconsult. “Growth in emerging digital markets has been particularly strong with subscribers reaching the 60 million mark in 2009, a nearly five-fold increase over the previous few years.
“Looking forward, the market is expected to remain bright with Euroconsult forecasting roughly 235 million subscribers worldwide by 2019.”
Indeed, the report found the number of platforms in emerging digital markets reached 88 in 2009, up from only 30 in 2000. Subscribers in these markets grew from 11.9 million to nearly 60 million from 2003 to 2009. In India alone, there were 19 million subscribers spread over six platforms in 2009, despite a slow start in 2003/2004.
The adjustment of subscription fees to compete more effectively with analogue cable TV is partially responsible for stimulating subscriptions. Similarly, subscriptions in Central and Eastern Europe, at only 2 million in 2005 rose to 15.9 million in 2009, according to the Euroconsult report.
Some markets saw their first dedicated satellite pay TV platforms in 2008 and 2009 – including the Maghreb region (North Africa), Venezuela and Bolivia. Other markets saw the introduction of several platforms simultaneously, such as in the Ukraine with three new platforms in only two years.
Euroconsult expects the outlook for satellite pay TV to remain positive and continuous growth is expected into the next decade, with an estimated 240 million subscribers worldwide by 2019.
This growth will mainly come from emerging digital markets, in particular India, Russia, and Brazil as satellite pay-TV platforms multiply in those markets and affordable offerings increase uptake. Emerging digital markets should represent close to 70% of total subscriptions worldwide by 2019 compared to 45% in 2009.
Nearly all markets, with the exception of Europe, saw revenue growth in local currency last year. However, more aggressive pricing strategies, both due to the crisis and to more intense competition, weighed down the average revenue per subscriber (ARPU), resulting in revenues growing more modestly than subscribers, the report found.
While the aggressive pricing strategy currently practiced by many platforms drives subscriptions more than revenues in the short term, fee increases — which are very likely over time — should help securing long term revenue growth, it added.
The report also found emerging markets remain the key drivers of growth for global satellite operators.