Report warns feevees to diversify

Increase of cable and digital choices in households

HONG KONG Asia’s cable and satellite industries have begun to mature, with subscription numbers slowing, while the use of digital set-top boxes and tiered services is gradually increasing, according to a new report from Media Partners Asia.

“Operators need to build up new revenue streams through expanded basic and premium programming services and the rollout of video-on-demand, high definition TV, and personal video recorder-type services,” says Vivek Couto, MPA director of content and research.

Total industry revs will grow from $15.9 billion in 2003 to $26.8 billion in the next five years, according to the report, called Asia Pacific Cable & Satellite Markets 2004.

However, MPA has lowered its estimated revs for Asia’s cable and satellite biz in 2015 from the $50 billion it forecast last year to $37 billion.

MPA projects 234 million Asia Pacific cable and satellite subs by 2008 (37% penetration) and almost 283 million subs by 2015 (40% penetration).

Digital TV — bolstered by an increase in consumer demand, expected deregulation, greater availability of pay TV content and a cut in the costs of digital technology — is expected to drive industry growth.

Asia Pacific multi-channel cable and satellite subs grew by 9% in 2003 to reach 178.8 million homes (32% penetration). The leading markets by penetration were Taiwan (83%), Korea (73%) and India (54%). By subs, the leading markets were China (100 million), India (47.7 million), Korea (11.9 million), Japan (8.1 million) and Taiwan (5.3 million).

Digital satellite stayed strong with subs growing 20% in 2003 to reach 7.1 million, driven by platforms in Japan, Malaysia, Korea and Australia. At the same time, digital cable stayed slow, largely held up by regulatory issues.

Broadband cable penetration continues to gradually increase as consumer prices and equipment costs decline.

In 2003, total industry revenues were $15.9 billion, up 17%. Video services (subscription and advertising) contributed $13.4 billion, cable modem subscription contributed $2.4 billion and cable telephony subscription contributed $171 million.

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