Global Pay TV Falls 11% to $183B by 2023, Led by North America

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Pay TV subscribers are up, but pay TV revenue is down—sharply down. That paradoxical finding comes from Digital TV Research, which sees worldwide pay TV revenues falling 11 percent from a high of $205 billion in 2016 to $183 billion in 2023. The area is actually gaining subscribers, but homes are signing on to phone, broadband, and TV bundles which drives down the average revenue per subscriber.

The biggest declines will come from North America where pay TV revenues will tumble by $22 billion from 2017 to 2023. That decline is actually offset by slight growth in the rest of the world, so the total worldwide decline for the same period will be $19 billion. Will pay TV find its bottom soon and start to plateau?

"We think that pay TV losses will slow down in the U.S. but will accelerate in other developed markets," says Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research. "However, we do not think that these markets will be as badly hit as the U.S. (due mainly to lower fees). vMVPD development in these countries is about  two to three years behind the U.S. There is still plenty of traditional pay TV growth to be had in developing markets."

Digital TV Research has created a report on pay TV use in 138 countries, and found that revenue will drop in 8 of the top 10 markets from 2017 to 2023. Overall, revenue will fall in 47 of the countries examined. The biggest gain will come from India, which will increase revenues by $1.6 billion from 2017 to 2023.

"Some consumers—especially in the U.S.—consider traditional pay TV to be too expensive, with too much irrelevant content," Murray adds. "Traditional pay TV operators have been slow to react to this (although they are now). OTT allows consumers to pick exactly what they want."

Revenues for IPTV are solid, and will grow from $25 billion in 2017 to $27 billion in 2023. IPTV growth is especially strong in China where broadband connections are more often reliable than cable TV.

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