The combined European cable industry is currently losing subscribers to satellite and IPTV (down 0.5% in 2016 compared to 2015) but that is the only (albeit important) sour note for an industry that looks to be in good shape. Thanks partly to the conversion of existing TV subscribers from analogue to digital, television ARPU is growing at a healthy rate, up 16% over the last five years. Television ARPU is higher than IPTV but much less than satellite. Overall TV revenue is growing, too, up 3.7% in 2016.
These are some of the headlines from a batch of figures released by IHS Markit on the eve of Cable Congress, and which their former Chief Analyst and Vice President, Ben Keen, analysed at the event. He is now an independent analyst and adviser. “The really good news is broadband,” Keen pointed out.
Cable broadband grew in all but one Western European market last year, with Ireland providing the exception. In CEE, broadband business is growing everywhere except in Armenia and Lithuania. Year-on-year, broadband subscriptions were up 5.9% and broadband revenues were up 7.5% in 2016. Keen noted that cable is converting its broadband subscriber base to super-fast broadband more successfully than telcos.
The number off Revenue Generating Units (discrete services like TV, or telephony, or broadband) taken by cable customers in Europe is still growing modestly, up 2.7 million in 2016 (compared to 2015). “That is helped by bundling and the leading operators are trying to get into the mobile game, as well,” Keen said. Total cable revenues are up 4.6% for Europe as a whole (all figures covering EU28).
In terms of television subscribers, Keen provided a graph that treats an SVOD subscription as equal to a traditional Pay TV subscription, counting only the numbers. This showed that Netflix now ranks third, behind Sky and Liberty Global, and Amazon is eighth, thanks to their much higher growth rates.
“This is good news,” he added. “It means that consumers have a growing appetite to pay for video, and that translates to more money and a bigger pie for everyone.”