According to Digital TV Research's most recent "Global Pay TV Operator Databook," 522 operators reached 87 percent of the 959 million total pay TV subscribers worldwide in 2016. The top 50 operators took three-quarters of the total global pay TV revenue share, with the share for the top 10 operators at 55 percent last year.
Pay TV revenues for 138 countries increased by $32 billion between 2010 and 2016 to reach $202 billion, according to a previous Digital TV Research report (see "Global Pay TV Revenues Up, but Slowing"). For the 522 operators mentioned above, subscription and PPV revenues were $185 billion by the end of 2016, with 30 pay TV operators earning more than $1 billion in revenues from that total, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the top 50 operators had two-thirds of the world's pay TV subscriptions in 2016, and 15 operators had more than 10 million subscribers. China Radio & TV wrapped up 2016 with 227 million subscribers, which is more subscribers than the next 11 operators combined, making it the world's largest pay TV provider by subscribers (see table). Government policy to consolidate cable TV contributed to China Radio & TV's top ranking. Fellow Chinese operators China Telecom and BesTV ranked second and third respectively in 2016, while three Indian operators also ranked among the top 10.
"China's and India's dominance of the top pay TV operator rankings is increasing, partly as their subs bases climb but also due to U.S. operators losing subscribers," said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.
Although not in significant contention with China TV and Radio's subscriber numbers, four U.S. pay TV providers ranked among the top 10 by subscriber: AT&T at 4, Comcast at 5, the merged Charter at 6, and DISH Network at 10.
However, while Asia Pacific's top operators enjoyed large subscription numbers, they suffered from low average revenue per user (ARPU). United States companies ranked well in subscription and PPV revenue, with six of the top 10 in 2016.