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Pay TV in the home remains strong despite growing online competition

The number of homes worldwide paying to watch television continues to rise, despite a popular view that people are turning to online alternatives.

The number of homes worldwide paying to watch television continues to rise, despite a popular view that people are turning to online alternatives.

The quarterly Multiscreen Index published by informitv shows an overall increase in the digital subscriber numbers of 100 leading pay television services around the world, across the board, by region or mode of delivery.

The greatest growth is in developing regions but even established markets like the US show annual and quarterly gains.

Services delivered by satellite, cable and telephone lines are all gaining subscribers, with telco providers among the leaders.

60% of pay TV services in the Index now deliver to multiple screens other than a traditional television, including smartphones, tablets and other network-connected devices.

“Pay TV providers are launching multiscreen offerings to head off competition from new online subscription video services,” said Dr William Cooper, the founder and chief executive of informitv. “Our research reveals that there is an increasing trend towards delivering services to multiple screens, from smartphones to smart televisions. Contrary to popular opinion that television subscriptions are in decline, the informitv Multiscreen Index presents a bigger picture that shows the total number of pay TV subscriptions is increasing, particularly in developing markets.”

The 100 multichannel pay TV services in the Multiscreen Index cover over 30 countries and generally each has more than a million digital television subscribers. They collectively represent around 320 million subscribing homes worldwide.

In 2013 the Multiscreen Index saw a net gain of 18.98 million subscribers, an increase of 6.3%. In the last quarter, the 10 services in the Index reporting the largest subscriber gains added 2.97 million video customers or 5.6%. The 10 reporting the largest losses collectively lost 0.48 million video customers in three months, a combined loss of 1.7%.

In the US, which is the largest pay TV market by value, cable companies have been losing subscribers while satellite and telco providers have gained customers, and the overall trend is that digital television services are growing. The top six pay TV providers added 9.44 million digital television subscribers over the last seven years, led by the advance of telco television.

The Asia Pacific region shows the greatest growth, up 1.63 million subscribers in the last quarter, without counting major operators in China and India that do not disclose subscriber numbers. There is also substantial growth in Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe.

This story also appears on IBC’s Content Everywhere.