North America to add 1.5mn pay-TV subs this year

Pay-TV penetration has now reached saturation point in Canada and the US, and will remain flat over the next five years despite all the talk about cord-cutting, according to Digital TV Research.

There will be a small increase in the number of pay-TV subs in the region due to population growth, with 7.5mn to be added between 2012 and 2018 to reach 119.5mn. Subscriber numbers are predicted to increase by 1.5mn this year alone.

Simon Murray, report author, said: “Most of the pay TV subscriber losses over the last few years have been analog cable subs. Nearly 20mn analogue cable subscribers were shed between 2008 and 2012.

“Most of the remaining analog cable subscribers are either reluctant to pay more for digital packages or they are just not that interested in TV. These subscribers will only make the decision to convert to digital when there are no other options.”

North America’s pay-TV revenues are believed to have reached their peak in 2012, and are expected to fall by US$ 5bn over the next five years to reach US$ 83bn in 2018. According to Murray, TV’s average revenue per user is being forced down as cable operators and telcos convert their subscribers to dual-play or triple-play bundles, though blended [overall] ARPU is rising.

“But it won’t end there,” he adds. “As the analogue cable networks switch off, operators across all of the digital platforms will try to outdo each other on promotions, with pricing becoming a more and more important tool. Satellite TV [DTH/DBS] will overtake cable to become the largest pay TV platform earner in 2017.”

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