Subscription TV service has 2.3 subscribers at end of March

The total number of subscribers to the subscription TV service reached 2.3 million at the end of the first quarter of the year, up 39 thousand from the previous quarter and up 257 thousand from the same quarter of 2008. Only Madeira saw a fall in the number of customers (-0.4 per cent).

The cable TV distribution service now comprises around 63 per cent of subscribers - down 1.8 percentage points on the previous quarter, while the weight of other technologies grew by 3 percentage points to represent around 12 per cent of the total. The weight of DTH remains steady: 1 in 4 subscription TV subscribers use this technology.

Meanwhile, in regional terms this distribution varies considerably. Despite the general decline in the weight of cable, it continues to be clearly dominant in Madeira and Lisbon and to have a majority position in the North and Algarve. Meanwhile in the Alentejo, and Azores Regions, DTH is the most commonly used technology. In the Alentejo and Algarve regions 1 out of every 5 subscribers use other technologies.

The number of cabled households for all operators stood at around 4.3 million and continued to grow with 25 thousand more households recorded compared to the previous quarter and 163 thousand more than at the same time in 2008. The increases seen reflect, above all, the expansion of the networks of Grupo ZON/TV Cabo, especially in the North and Lisbon areas.

The geographic distribution of cabled households remained virtually unaltered, with the Lisbon area continuing to have the biggest concentration of cabled households (43 per cent).

During the same period, the total number of subscribers to the cable television service totalled around 1.46 million, down 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter and down 2.5% compared to the first quarter of 2008 - In absolute terms this fall corresponds to 16 thousand subscribers over the quarter and 37 thousand year-on-year.

All the main operators saw declines to their customer base, with the exception of ZON/TV Cabo Portugal and some very small operators. The operators which contributed most to these results were Cabovisão, TVTel and ZON Madeira. This reduction in the number of cable TV subscribers may, in certain cases, result from substitution between service access platforms.

Despite the net decline in the number of CDS subscribers, the number benefiting from digital formats continued to rise. There were around 619 thousand digital subscribers, corresponding to over 42 per cent of all CDS subscribers. 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 Madeira (68 per cent).

Accordingly, at the end of the first quarter of 2009, Cable television service subscribers represented around 26% of all Portuguese households.

With the increase in cabled households and the fall in the number of subscribers, the penetration rate calculated in terms of cabled households fell to 37 per cent.

With respect to the television service using Direct to Home technology, the number of subscribers stood at 584 thousand at the end of March, 2 thousand fewer subscribers than in the previous quarters, but 85 thousand more than in the same period of 2008.

In comparison to the previous quarter, with the exception of  PT Comunicações, all operators saw a decline in their customer base. However the decline was especially driven by the fall in the number of ZON/TV Cabo subscribers.

The growth seen over the same period of 2008, is mostly due to the DTH offer launched by PT Comunicações.

As far as the other 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 stood at 282 thousand at the end of March, 58 thousand more customers than in the previous quarter and corresponding to a rise of around 26 per cent.

The greatest growth in absolute terms was found in the Lisbon, North and Centre regions which accounted for 42 thousand of the 58 thousand new subscribers, although in percentage terms the other regions saw higher rates of growth. Meanwhile, in terms of geographic distribution of subscribers, the weighting of the Lisbon region shrank, as numbers grew more quickly in the other regions.