Though many internet users in the U.S. and Europe are doing away with their traditional cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming solutions such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, the worldwide base of pay-TV subscribers is still rising steadily.
Today, market research firm ABI Research released a report showing that worldwide pay-TV subscriptions are expected to reach 886.5 million by the end of this year. This represents a 6% increase from subscriptions in 2012. Third quarter 2013 revenue from those subscriptions reached $62.6 billion.
Given the lack of enthusiasm for pay-TV in western markets, it isn't surprising that the rise in pay-TV subscriptions is coming mainly from emerging markets such as China, Brazil, and India. ABI predicts that these markets will lead the worldwide pay-TV subscription market to over 1 billion subscriptions and over $229 billion in yearly revenue by the year 2018.
“Emerging markets are key drivers of global growth in pay-TV subscribers as developed markets are experiencing flat growth rates,” said Jake Saunders, practice director at ABI.
ABI sees IPTV subscriptions as the main driver of pay-TV subscriptions in countries such as France, Germany, and the UK, with total Western European IPTV subscriptions up 1.9 million year-over-year during the third quarter of 2013. This effect isn't being seen in other countries such as Italy and Spain, where ABI blames poor consumer buying power for those countries' 2% and 7% pay-TV subscription drops, respectively.
North America was seen losing subscriptions last quarter, but only under 1% of total pay-TV subscriptions. Cable TV subscriptions in particular fell by 1.7 million over the past year. Despite the small declines, pay-TV revenue in North America is still rising, suggesting that more expensive offerings are paying off for cable providers. According to ABI, year-over-year pay-TV revenue in North America grew 3% during the third quarter.