Cord-cutting beginning to hit Europe

According to Strategy Analytics, declining pay TV subscriptions in the UK suggest that cord-cutting, which is well established in the United ...

Apr 26th, 2019

According to Strategy Analytics, decliningpay TV subscriptions in the UK suggest that cord-cutting, which is well established in the United States, is now beginning to affect the European market.

The research house says the UK saw a net decline in pay TV households of 424,000 in 2018, the largest decline of any European country. Other countries with falling subscriptions include Denmark, Switzerland and Germany, although the rates of decline are less significant. Pay TV is still growing in some countries such as Russia, France, Poland and Spain, where the pay TV market is generally less mature. According to th Strategy Analytics, the number of pay TV subscriptions across Europe as whole rose slightly in 2018, reaching 128.5 million. But the growth rate of 1.3% declined from the previous year's 2.2%, and that trend suggests subscriptions across the continent will begin to decline within the next year or two.

Other findings indicate:

  • Telco operators like Orange and Deutsche Telekom are faring better than traditional cable and satellite players like Comcast (which owns Sky) and Liberty Global (which includes Virgin Media). Telco TV subscriptions rose 5.4% in 2018, compared to a decline for their rivals of 1.3%.
  • Comcast and Liberty Global remain the leading pay TV providers in Europe, with subscriber market shares of 14.9% and 13.8% respectively.
  • Europe's pay TV market remains highly fragmented, with the top five players accounting for less than half of all subscribers.

The analysis includes only traditional pay TV services delivered via cable, satellite, telco TV (IPTV) and terrestrial broadcasts. It excludes online video services such as Netflix and NowTV.

Michael Goodman, director, TV & Media Strategies, said: "We have seen the cord-cutting trend for several years in the U.S., where the pay TV business is more mature. Now it is starting to hit major markets in Europe, and this spells trouble for pay TV operators which cannot adapt to the needs of today's viewers. The threat of falling subscriber revenues and stronger OTT rivals will also increase pressure from investors for further consolidation across the industry."

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