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Pay TV thriving and driving across US and European results season

The results for Pay TV providers around the world continue to be a mixed bag, mostly successful, measured by their own standards, with the bigger over

By PETER WHITE

Published: 3 March, 2011

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The results for Pay TV providers around the world continue to be a mixed bag, mostly successful, measured by their own standards, with the bigger overall gains going to IPTV, some to DTH and Cable continuing to improve RGUs, and in some cases add to the total number of homes they serve across three services, but which are losing cable TV homes.

For Charter Communications in the US it had fourth quarter revenues of $1.8 billion, up around 5.2% against a year ago, in-line with pretty much all the cable results we have seen so far. Charter said it added 12.8 million RGUs, about 325,000 better than last year, with only 14,400 added in the fourth quarter. Around 61% of residential customers take a bundle, compared to 57% a year ago, so the triple play thing is working for Charter. Digital video is naturally up, but basic video customers decreased by 67,300 during the fourth quarter with a negligible increase in ARPU, better phone penetration of its base, ending with 4.5 million basic video customers, 3.4 million on digital video, and 3.2 million Internet customers.

The usual cursory statement came from Dish Networks that it lost 156,000 subs in the last quarter taking it to 14.13 million, up just 33,000 in the entire year, a far cry from the 663,000 that DirecTV added during the past year in the US, and a continuing concern for anyone investing in Dish.

Over in Europe France Telecom topped out at 4.1 million pay TV customers, mostly across France and Poland, with a 28% increase in additions, adding 902,000 customer over the year. During the quarter Poland numbers, split evenly between IPTV and DTH service, grew to 544,000, up from 497,000 last quarter. In France IPTV customers grew to 3.5 million from 3.23 million last quarter and 2.5 million a year earlier.

At Belgacom in Belgium the company added 223,000 new Belgacom TV customers, leading to a total customer base of 975,000, just shy of 1 million, slowly hauling in the 2.2 million lead of top cable company Liberty Global’s Telenet. Belgacom says that now it has 60% of customers taking triple play, up about 3% on the year. Belgacom has spent a lot of time thinking about a future OTT based entertainment service and has widely advertised its investments in OnLive, the online gaming portal and in 3Depth systems which offers a 3D gesturing system all due to hit its services this year. Additions in the fourth quarter were 55,000.

At Telenor in Scandinavia it has lost a handful of DTH subscribers from 1.06 million down to 997,000 and its cable TV interests have also fallen slightly to 716,000, while at rival TeliaSonera, which has TV subscribers all over Eastern Europe as well as Scandinavia it continues to drive mostly IPTV assets, now at 935,000 across its Scandinavian territories, up from 886,000 last quarter and 798,000 a year earlier. It also has strong subscriber bases in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

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