After North America, DTH subscriber fall expected to accelerate in Europe, Asia: Rethink TV

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MUMBAI: Rethink Technology Research’s Rethink TV service has launched a new report which shows how Direct to Home (DTH) subscriber falls will accelerate and spread from North America to Europe and eventually to Asia. Where subscribers numbers rise there will be falls in ARPU.

The new report is entitled, “Who benefits as Global DTH revenue set to shed $ billions – Forecast to 2024” and it is part of the Rethink TV series of forecasts, sold by Rethink as a subscription service.

The report stated that a wide slice of the video economy will gain from the demise of DTH – be they rival pay-TV services, fresh OTT live and SVoD services or broadband services and video services from MNOs.

In the meantime, most pay-TV operators rushing to introduce their own OTT video services, which in turn is accelerating the trend. This will affect every single technology provider to DTH operations; it will affect all pay TV software services from video QoS to Android TV to billing services in every part of the world.

The decline in DTH will turn out to be terminal, and yet it all began when cable TV began to churn around 2010, a story which spread to the US satellite operators a few years later.

Today the exodus is gathering speed and starting to spread to Europe, leaving operators scrambling to mop up their departing customers via the life rafts of low ARPU OTT.

This makes it impossible to maintain existing high Arpus at historical levels, and the wheels have just come off for AT&T in the US as DirecTV Now, its stand-alone OTT is seen as an alternative to the main DTH service – both have now been losing subs after initial gains and investors are starting to ask if this is a permanent trend.

What is still true is that DTH continues to thrive where there are no competitive alternatives for premium content, or where one operator has hogged the most sought-after sports rights.

And in some parts of the world DTH continues to provide an engine of growth for pay TV – but only in developing markets and only for a short while longer, notably India.

Latin America with it artificially high pay-TV ARPU looks less like India and more like the US and sustaining ARPU there will be a thankless challenge.

DTH saw rapid growth in pay TV until 2014 in Latin America, on the back of an expanding middle class in key markets. Now it is set for a period of decline and falling ARPU as OTT services continue to take off there and provide a direct threat.

This report looks at multiple geographies, the Americas, Europe, and developing countries in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa along with Oceania.

In Europe, the picture is more mixed, with the decline well advanced for some operators such as France’s Canal+, whose base will be halved by 2024 from 2018. Some Eastern European markets have profiles more like developing countries, most notably Cyfrowy Polsat in Poland, set to continue gaining subs for at least the next few years. However, even these operators will run out of rope towards the end of the forecast.

In the Asia Pacific DTH subscriber growth will be sustained throughout the period but with signs of flattening later around 2024. The anticipation is that some Asia Pacific operators that are still growing subscribers now will reach a turning point during the forecast period with decline setting in just before 2024.


Squaring all the regions together there is still a global rise in DTH numbers, but this will come to an end during 2020, and move on to an accelerating decline as more and more DTH operators in Asia Pacific pass their summit.

People have been trying to pretend that Direct To Home paid satellite TV delivery (DTH) is not going away for years, but the company noted that its research shows definitively how fast subscribers and revenues will fall and paints the picture of where that money will be spent instead.


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