Subscription television market continues to grow

In December 2008, the total number of subscribers to subscription TV service reached 2,29 million, 75 thousand more than in the previous quarter.

The cable TV distribution service now comprises around 65% of subscribers - down 2 percentage points on the previous quarter, while DTH represents around 26%. As previously mentioned, other technologies represent around 10% of the customers of this service.

Regarding the cable television service, the total number of cabled households for all operators stood at around 4,27 million during this period, 30 thousand more households than in the previous quarter and 230 thousand more than recorded at the same time in 2007.

The growth seen during the quarter reflects the expansion made to the network of the main operator, above all in the Azores and in the North and Lisbon Regions.

The region with the highest rate of growth was the Autonomous Region of the Azores, which was also the region which made the biggest contribution to the overall growth trend.

The geographic distribution of cabled households remained virtually unchaged, with the Lisbon area continuing to have the biggest concentration of cabled households (around 43%).

In the fourth quarter of 2008, the number of subscribers to the cable television service totalled around 1,48 million subscribers, down 0.7% on the previous quarter and down 1% year on year. The number of subscribers to this service fell for the first time when compared year-on-year. It should be noted, however, that this result is based on provisional operator data, and may therefore be altered at a later date. On the other hand, in some cases, there may have been a degree of churn between service access platforms.

Despite the net decline in the number of cable television service subscribers, the number benefiting from digital formats continued to rise. There were around 600 thousand digital subscribers, corresponding to over a 39% of all subscribers to this service. Almost half of these subscribers are found in the Lisbon area, with a quarter in the North. Meanwhile, the highest penetration rates with the highest proportion of digital subscribers in terms of the total subscriber base can be found in the Autonomous regions (46% in the Azores and 66% in Madeira).

Lisbon remained the region which contributed most to the drop off in the number of cable television service subscribers.

The only region contributing positively in terms of subscriber numbers in comparison to the third quarter 2008 was the North region, due to growth seen in the subscriber numbers of the main operator.

Cable television service subscribers now represent around 26% of all Portuguese households.

Contrary to the trend of cable, the television service using Direct To Home (DTH) technology grew by 4.5% over the previous quarter and 21.3% compared to the same quarter of 2007.

As far as other types of subscription TV offers are concerned, including offers over the public telephone network (xDSL/IP), over FWA and using fibre optic (FTTH), the number of subscribers using these platforms and technologies stood at 224 thousand as at the end of 2008, 59 thousand more customers than in the previous quarter and corresponding to a rise of 36%.

The greatest growth in absolute terms was again found in the Lisbon region which accounted for 20 thousand of the 59 thousand new subscribers.

In view of the growth of the services of television by satellite and through other technologies being far greater than the decline in the cable TV service, the penetration rate of subscription TV subscribers relative to cabled households rose during the quarter, reaching 40.9%.

In terms of subscriber shares, Grupo ZON saw its share increase to 72.3% from 71.2% in the previous quarter. PTC also saw an increase in its share of customers from 9.5% to 13.6%, while Cabovisão reported a share of 12.4%.