Pay TV subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific region will grow 17% to 300 million this year, according to a report presented Tuesday at the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia’s annual confab in Hong Kong.

Of that number, 71 million will be digital connections, said the report published jointly by Casbaa and Standard Chartered Bank. It forecast that Asia’s digital pay TV total will soon overtake the U.S.

“Digitization is good for consumers and the industry. Given a greater choice of programming, the possibility of buying content that suits their particular interests and the opportunity to view it when they want, where they want, customers willingly buy,” report said.

Report also underlined digital’s role in cutting TV piracy.

Study said according to its definition of TV piracy (which excludes content on the Internet, but includes illegal connections, decoder card sharing and satellite overspill), the cost to companies had hit $1.77 billion, and that its growth from 2007’s $1.54 billion was fractionally lower than the growth of the legitimate pay TV market.

By far the TV industry’s greatest loss — $1.12 billion — is in India, which combines under declarations with illicit redistributors. That compares to a legal market worth only $21 million.

But the study did not place piracy as a major fiscal problem for the government as many Indian pirate operations pay tax on their illegal earnings.

Other territories where pirate TV exceeds the legitimate pay TV market include the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.