Pay TV services increased their subscriber numbers by just 1 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, according to informitv’s Multiscreen Index. The Index includes 100 services across the world, which recorded total subscriber gains of 3.52 million in the three months to the end of September but increased by 19.18 million (5.6 per cent) year on year.
Fifty-eight of the 100 TV services, based in over 30 countries, declared a net increase in subscribers. However, many of the major US cable and satellite operators did not fare so well, losing video customers. Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cablevision and Mediacom lost over 389,000 video subscribers between them. Many in the industry have feared the impact of VoD on pay TV services, and 66 per cent of services in the Multiscreen Index have some form of multiscreen offering, in a bid to compete with online services. However, the strength of video streaming may be exaggerated.
Consulting firm Deloitte forecasts online subscription video on-demand will generate about £5 billion globally this year — or only around 3 per cent of the £168 billion pay TV market. In the US, the customer losses of Comcast and others were offset by gains of 328,000 by the telco television services of AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS.
The pay tv vs VoD argument is a global one, and should not be limited to a focus on the industries in the US and Europe. Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index, commented: “Our analysis reveals a modest gain in television subscriber numbers despite some notable losses, particularly among cable and satellite operators in the United States. The wider picture is more complex, with many operators elsewhere continuing to show growth.”
“Elsewhere” included India and Korea, where TV services added some of the highest numbers of subscribers. Dish TV in India reported an additional 400,000 subscribers in the quarter. The ten services with the largest gains added 2.37 million subscribers between them. The region with the largest overall increase was Europe, Middle East and Africa, adding 2.13 million subscribers.