Pay TV’s plundered

Asia piracy costs $1.3 bil in lost revs per year

SYDNEY — Rampant piracy is costing the pay TV industry in Asia nearly $1.3 billion in lost revenues this year, according to a new study.

Report estimates pay TV piracy is growing at more than 10% per year and pinpoints three culprits: unlicensed operators, underdeclaring of subscribers and the use of pirated decoders.

“This is an alarming cost, and it continues to escalate at a rapid pace,” said Simon Twiston Davies, chief exec of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia, which commissioned the study. “However, there have been too few efforts to regulate the issue.”

The regional pay TV industry generates estimated annual revenues of $13 billion this year, but piracy is undermining growth. “It almost singularly explains why new capital that should have been allocated to improving services has not been invested as of today,” Twiston Davies added.

Findings of the study, described as the first independent study of the feevee industry’s piracy losses in the region and conducted by CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, were revealed Tuesday at Casbaa’s annual confab in Hong Kong.

Net revenue losses this year are estimated at $874 million and gross rev losses at $1.29 billion.

Underdeclaration of pay TV subscribers in India dominates regional piracy numbers, accounting for 72% of the foregone revs, it said. The combo of unlicensed operators and pirated analog set-top boxes in Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines caused a further 23% leakage.

Hong Kong was identified as the worst of the developed regional cities such as Singapore, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur, reporting a gross loss of $28 million from pirated cable and satellite subs.

“Combating piracy has long been the No. 1 priority for Casbaa,” Twiston Davies said. “We are committed to working with governments, companies and law enforcement agencies around the region to enact laws and develop educational programs that promote a vibrant, safe and legal broadcasting environment.”

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