Fibre and alternative technologies drive subscription TV

/ Updated on 09.03.2011

The total number of subscribers to the subscription TV service totalled 2.77 million in December, almost 58 thousand more than in the previous quarter and 246 thousand more than in the same period of 2009. The main drivers of the service's growth have been primarily FTTH/FTTB and secondarily the "other technologies" of access (Subscription television over the public telephone network (xDSL/IP) and over FWA), representing in conjunction 97% of new customers (in net terms).

In terms of technologies, at the end of the fourth quarter, it was reported that the cable TV distribution service comprised around 51.8% of all subscription TV subscribers - down 1.1 percentage points on the previous quarter, while the weight of "other technologies" and FTTH/B grew by 1.6 percentage points in conjunction to represent around 18.8% and 5.2% of the total respectively. The weight of DTH fell to around 24.2% of all STVS subscribers.

Meanwhile, in regional terms, despite the general decline in its weight, cable continues to be clearly dominant in Madeira, Lisbon, in the North and in the Algarve. In the Azores, the proportion of DTH and cable TV is very similar. In the Alentejo and Centre regions, DTH is the predominant technology, with over a third of subscribers using "other technologies" in the latter region. Over 80% of subscription TV subscribers are found in Lisbon and the North and Centre.

The penetration rate reported for subscription TV subscribers in terms of households reached 48.5 per every 100 households during the period being reported.

Grupo ZON/TV Cabo continued to have the largest share of subscription TV subscribers (57.9%). PTC remains the second largest subscription TV operator with a 29.9% share of subscribers, increasing its share by 1.6 points over the previous quarter. The third largest operator continues to be Cabovisão, with a share of 9.4% of subscribers.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the total number of cabled households for all operators stood at around 4.06 million, 0.5% more than in the previous quarter and 1.7% more than recorded for the same period in 2009. The Lisbon area continues to have the biggest concentration of cabled households (45%).

In the same period, the total number of subscribers increased by 0.1% over the previous quarter to 1.438 million. This is the first increase reported in the number of subscribers to this service since the beginning of 2010. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, the number of subscribers declined by 0.9%. This reduction was essentially seen in the Greater Lisbon and in the Autonomous Regions. The number of CDS subscribers benefiting from digital formats continued to rise. There are now more than one million digital subscribers, corresponding to around 75% of all subscribers.

The number of subscribers to the television service using Direct To Home (DTH) technology was in line with the previous quarter, but rose compared to the same quarter of 2009 by 4%, adding 25 thousand customers.

Looking at the provision of subscription TV over optical fibre (FTTH/B), it is reported that there were around 1.47 thousand households passed with optical fibre (FTTH/B), whereas the number of subscribers increased by 26.6% over the previous quarter, reaching a total of 143 thousand. Around 87% of these subscribers were found in Lisbon and the North. There are currently 3 offers of subscription TV over optical fibre (FTTH/B): Sonaecom, ZON/TV CABO (ex-TVTel) and PTC. However, none are present in all parts of the country.

With regard to the remaining subscription TV offers, including offers over the public telephone network (xDSL/IP) and using FWA, there are now 4 providers with offers available on the market: AR Telecom (fixed wireless access - FWA), Sonaecom, PTC and Vodafone (the latter three over the public telephone network - xDSL/IP). There were 523 thousand subscribers to the subscription television service provided over these technology platforms reported in as at the end of the quarter, 26 thousand (5.3%) more than in the previous quarter. PTC was the main driver of this increase, especially in the North and Centre regions.

Individualised revenues from STVS totalled around 670 million euros, an increase of 2.7% over the previous year. Of this total, around 62.3% refer to cable customers, 27.4% to DTH and 10.3% to customers using other technologies. These revenues are derived from stand-alone offers or multiple play offers where the television component can be separated.

As far as non-separable revenues are concerned, derived from packages of services which include subscription TV, these totalled 210 million euros, rising by 66% compared to full year 2009 and referring essentially to triple play packages associated with technologies over the public telephone network (xDSL/IP), which also saw the most growth in terms of subscriber numbers compared to 2009.