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European pay-TV market records lowest ever growth as subs slump

Market grew just 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2018

The European pay TV market reached 185 million subscribers during the first quarter of 2018, growing just 0.3 per cent compared to Q4 2017.

This is the lowest ever net growth ever observed in the market, Dataxis research found.

It also found that 35 per cent of the Pay TV subscribers receive direct cable, 31 per cent satellite and 28 per cent IPTV. OTT and DTT both represents only 3 per cent of the subscribers’ total.

Direct cable is still the most used technology in Europe and represents almost 65 million subscribers, including 42 million for only digital cable, but decreased slightly in Q1 2018. Liberty Global/Vodafone accounts for 31 per cent of the subscribers, while the indirect cable market amounts to 18 million customers.

The satellite (DTH) market decreased more substantially in the first quarter of 2018, with 400,000 fewer subscribers (-0.72 per cent) than in Q4 2017. Dataxis estimates that Sky Group and Tricolor (Russia), which together hold 50 per cent of the market, have lost 140,000 and 80,000 customers respectively.

The DTT market remained stable in Q1 2018, losing only 0.35 per cent of its subscribers, but tends to decline despite the launch of Freenet in Germany in 2017, which accounts for 18 per cent of the DTT subscribers and gained 47,000 customers during the last quarter.

On the other hand, the IPTV market in Europe continued its growth over the same period, with 1m more subscribers compared to Q4 2017 (+2 per cent). The main players in this market are Orange (France) and Rostelecom (Russia), which account for respectively 10 per cent and 13 per cent of the IPTV subscribers.

Despite representing only 3 per cent of the pay TV market, OTT grew significantly in terms of subscribers, up 47 per cent on Q4 2016. Play Now in Poland holds a quarter of these total OTT subscribers.