Report: Big pay-TV growth in Asia, but global revenues flat through 2020

Twelve Chinese and Indian pay-TV operators are poised to add more than 130 million subscribers between 2014 and 2020, with a trio of Chinese operators becoming the largest providers in the world. Global pay-TV subscriber growth, meanwhile, also is expected to swell to 904 million by 2020, up from 704 million in 2014.

The bad news? North American and Western European operators are expected to be among the 23% of operators that will see continued subscriber erosion by 2020. Despite adding customers, subscription and VOD revenues for the 338 service providers studied is forecast to remain flat at roughly $183 billion, reported Digital TV Research (DTVR).

Those revenues will continue to be pressured as competition – both between service providers and with aggressively expanding subscription and ad-supported VOD services – continues to heat up. Also impacting the bottom line: Increasing costs of customer acquisition and retention.

Comcast is projected to be the biggest revenue loser among the 97 operators expected to see negative growth by 2020, said DTVR, with its subscription and VOD revenues declining $4.6 billion. Still, U.S. operators will have six of the Top 10 revenues in the sector in 2020.

China Radio & TV is forecast to add $2.16 billion.

Subscriber growth in Asia

The government-mandated cable consolidation in China gave China Radio & TV 198 million subscribers in 2014, a number DTVR forecasts to increase 54 million to 252 million by 2020.

Rounding out the Top 5 by 2020 are Chinese IPTV operators China Telecom (up 14.7 million to 28 million) and BesTV (up 13.2 million to 25 million), followed by Liberty Global essentially flat at 24 million subs across Europe) and DirecTV/Sky (up 4 million to 23 million in Latin America).

Comcast (22 million) and DirecTV (20 million), which in 2014 ranked third and fourth on the list respectively, drop off by 2020.

Seventy-nine of the operators are expected to lose subscribers by 2020 with Korea’s CJ Hellovision, Germany’s Unitymedia and Romania’s RCS-RDS being hardest hit.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn