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European digital TV subscribers outnumber analogue for the first time

The number of digital TV subscribers outnumbered analogue for the first time in 2013, according to Cable Europe, which hailed it as a “landmark” year – despite a year-on-year dip in total TV subscribers.

Announcing the figures at a press conference at Cable Congress in Amsterdam, Cable Europe managing director Caroline van Weede said that digital TV subscriber numbers were up 7.6% in 2013 to 30.86 million, accounting for 54.3% of TV subscriptions in Europe.

Though digital revenues first passed analogue revenues in 2009, last year was the first time that the same trend carried through to subscriber numbers, she said, explaining: “When a customer turns into a digital TV customer, they obviously have the opportunity to consume more services, and this generates more revenues for cable operators.”

Despite the digital boost, overall TV subscriber numbers were down 1.4% year-on-year to 56.8 million, in keeping with a downward trend that has persisted in recent years.

“The decline in total subscribers is because of the analogue to digital convergence – some of the analogue customers take digital with other providers,” said Cable Europe president and Liberty Global SVP and chief policy officer Manuel Kohnstamm.

Yet while TV subscribers were down, broadband and telephony numbers were both up in 2013. The number of broadband subscribers increased 7.1% year-on-year to 29.1 million, while telephony numbers grew 5.5% to 23.4 million.

This helped to create an overall increase in cable service customers. The number of revenue generating units was 109.3 million in the year, a 2.2% increase compared to 2012.

In terms of cable revenues, 2013 also saw an overall increase – though TV’s share of this shrank from 65% of the total in 2012 to 53% in 2013 as internet and telephony grew to account for almost half.

Total revenues were €21.9 billion, up 5.9% year-on-year. Telephony accounted for €4.2 billion (19% of total revs), internet €6.2 billion (28%) and TV €11.5 billion (53%).

Digital TV and VOD revenues combined accounted for more than 70% of the TV revenues, bringing in €8.32 billion of the total €11.5 billion, Cable Europe said.

Cable Europe is a trade association that aims to connect leading broadband cable TV operators and their national trade associations throughout the European Union.