New research conducted by Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News) has found that Western Europe witnessed its first decline in pay-TV subscriber numbers last year since the launch of commercial services in the 1980s, with Italy and Spain suffering the biggest losses.
In total there were 92.6mn pay-TV subscribers in Western Europe by the end of last year, according to Informa, with a total of 384,000 lost during the course of 2012.
Germany placed top for total subs with 21.5mn (down 180,000), followed by the UK with 14.4mn (up 190,000), then France with 12.2mn (down 3,000).
Italy lost a whopping 800,000 pay-TV subscribers in 2012 to reach 7.9mn, while Spain lost 261,000 to reach 4.3mn.
The rest of the countries in Western Europe added a total of 670,000 pay-TV subs to reach a total of 32.3mn.
“This is the first drop in subscriber numbers since pay-TV launched in Europe in the 1980s, so it is certainly a significant moment,” said Adam Thomas, Informa’s Media Research Manager.
“It’s a wake-up call to the industry that confirms pay-TV growth is no longer insulated against economic downturns. The heaviest losses were experienced in markets like Italy and Spain, where the Eurozone crisis has been hitting hard.”
Ted Hall, Senior Analyst covering Western Europe, added: “While these findings are unwelcome, they should not be overstated. There were a fairly unique set of fiscal circumstances in play last year and, as economic recovery kicks in, pay-TV subscriber numbers will return to growth.
“Indeed, we are forecasting that the pay-TV total will rise to 94 million this year, so, while the 2012 drop injects some caution, there is no suggestion the wheels are coming off the pay-TV bandwagon.”