Over 2.4 million subscribers reported to subscription TV service in September

In the third quarter of 2009, the total number of subscribers to the subscription TV service passed 2.4 million, around 72 thousand more than in the previous quarter and 232 thousand more than in the same period of 2008. The main drivers of the service's growth have been, in the first place, the ''other technologies'' of access (IPTV and similar)  and, in second place, DTH.

The cable TV distribution service now comprises around 60% of subscribers - down 1.8 percentage points on the previous quarter - while the weight of ''other technologies'' grew by 1.2 percentage points to represent around 15% of the total. The weight of DTH grew to around 26% of the total, with offers based on optical fibre representing 0.5% of STVS subscribers.

Meanwhile, in regional terms this distribution varies considerably. Despite the general decline in the weight of cable, it continues to be clearly dominant in Madeira, Lisbon, in the North and in the Algarve. In the Azores the decline of DTH in comparison to the number of cable TV subscribers meant that cable TV again overtook DTH in the region. In the Alentejo and Centre regions, DTH is the predominant technology, even as over 25% of subscribers use ''other technologies''.

In terms of the geographic distribution of all subscribers, no significant changes have been seen, with over 80% of subscription television service subscribes found in Lisbon and the North.

The penetration of subscription TV subscribers in terms of cabled households continued to increase, reaching 44 per 100 households.

The penetration of these services in terms of households continues to be above average in the Autonomous Regions and in Lisbon (regions where cable remains the major technology), and exceeds 30 per 100 households in all regions.

In regions with below average penetration rates: Algarve, Alentejo, Centre and North, the weight of ''other technologies'' is greater than in the other regions.

Grupo ZON/TV Cabo continues to have the largest share of subscription TV subscribers (66.6%, 1.8 percentage points less than in the previous quarter). PTC remains the second largest subscription TV operator (20.7% of subscribers), increasing its share by 2 points.  The third largest operator is Cabovisão, with a share of 10.6%. AR Telecom had 1% of the market at the end of September, Sonaecom had 0.9% and Vodafone 0.1%.

In September, the total number of cabled households for all operators stood at around 4.3 million, 22 thousand more households than in the previous quarter and 93 thousand more than recorded at the same time in 2008. The increases seen reflect, above all, the expansion of the networks of Grupo ZON/TV Cabo, especially in the North and Lisbon areas.

Lisbon continues to have the biggest concentration of cabled households (42.3%).

As at the end of September, there was a total of 1.45 million subscribers, 0.1% less than in the previous quarter and 2.2% less than in the same quarter of 2008.  In certain cases this reduction may stem from the substitution between the service’s access platforms.

The main alternative operator was responsible for the slight decline seen during the quarter being reported. Meanwhile, both ZON/TV CABO and the majority of the remaining smaller providers saw increased subscriber numbers.

The number of CDS subscribers benefiting from digital formats continued to rise. There were around 742 thousand digital subscribers, corresponding to over 50% of all CDS subscribers.

As far as penetration is concerned, the decline in CDS subscribers has not impacted the percentage of cable television service subscribers in terms of total Portuguese households, which has remained at 26%.

Meanwhile, the number of subscribers to the television service using Direct To Home (DTH) technology was reported at 624 thousand, 26 thousand more subscribers than in the previous quarter and 63 thousand more than in the third quarter of 2008.

This increase results above all from the growth in the number of PTC subscribers.

With respect to optical fibre, the number of subscribers whose service is based on this technology reached 12 thousand, more than double the figure reported in the previous quarter. During the quarter being reported, there were 3 optical fibre offers: one from Sonaecom, one from PTC and one from ZON/TV CABO (ex-TVTel).  However, there are none present in all parts of the country.

In terms of geographic distribution of subscribers, over 90% are concentrated in Lisbon and the North.

Meanwhile, with respect to offers supported by the public telephone network (xDSL/IP) and using FWA, It should be noticed that during this quarter Vodafone launched an offer of subscription television.  As such there are now 4 providers with offers available on the market: AR Telecom (fixed wireless access - FWA), Sonaecom, PTC, Vodafone (the latter three over the public telephone network - xDSL/IP).

There were 356 thousand subscribers to the subscription television service provided over these technology platforms reported in 3Q09, 39 thousand more than in the previous quarter, corresponding to an increase of 12% over the quarter, while year-on-year the number of subscriber more than doubled.