New figures from Digital TV Research reveal pay-TV subscribers in Eastern Europe will fall from 82 million subscribers in the peak year of 2018 to 74 million by 2027.
The analysts say 2018’s figure included 17 million analogue cable subscribers, which will drop to zero by 2027. Instead, those subscribers are expected to move to digital services, which will see an increase by 9 million over the period.
Digital TV Research added that they do not expect the traditional pay-TV sector to be as disrupted as the OTT market (where many Western companies have already withdrawn from Russia).
The number of pay-TV subscribers will fall in 18 of the region’s 22 countries between 2021 and 2027. The total will drop by 4 million in 2022 alone, mainly due to Ukraine losing all of its 2.6 million subscribers.
Russia is not as dependent on Western content as many other European countries, said the analysts. However, sanctions will result in economic hardship that will adversely affect Russian household spend. Pay-TV subscriptions are cheap, so the sector will not be hit that hard.
Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Russia will account for half of the region’s pay-TV subscribers in 2027. However, Russia will lose 5 million pay-TV subscribers between 2021 and 2027 partly as sanctions worsen the economic situation and due to some analogue cable homes converting to FTA DTT.
“We assume that Russia will withdraw from Ukraine before end-2022. After the Russian withdrawal, we expect massive investment in Ukraine by Western companies/governments as well as most refugees returning home.”