Pay TV subscriptions for 338 operators across 89 countries will increase by 200 million from a collective 704 million in 2014 to 904 million by 2020, according to a new report from Digital TV Research. The firm forecasts that nearly a quarter of operators will lose subscribers over the period, mainly in North America and Western Europe, while operators in the emerging markets of Asia Pacific will see strong growth.

China Radio and TV is the largest pay-television operators in the world by some way. Following government policy to consolidate cable television in the country, China Radio & TV has around 200 million subscribers and is expected to exceed 250 million by 2020.

China Telecom and BesTV will add 14.7 million and 13.2 million IPTV subscribers respectively.

Although the subscriber numbers in China are enormous, the United States will still lead in terms of income, accounting for six of the top ten operators by revenue.

However, the research firm suggests that while five operators will add more than $500 million in annual revenues, three out of ten will lose revenue. It forecasts that Comcast will decline by $4.6 billion, followed by Time Warner cable, down by $2.3 billion, with DirecTV down by $1.8 billion.

The forecast is based on 338 services worldwide. This includes multiple services from a single operating company For instance, Claro accounts for 14 of these services, across various Central and South American countries.

Digital TV Research reported in June that the total number of analogue and digital pay-television subscribers worldwide reached 878 million by the end of 2014, out of a total of 1.55 billion television homes worldwide, of which over a billion were digital.

The informitv Multiscreen Index of 100 leading pay television services worldwide gained almost four million subscribers in the second quarter of 2015. 54 of the 100 services in the index reported net subscriber gains, although many of these were marginal.

The 10 services with the largest gains added a total of 3.53 million subscribers, while the 10 with the largest losses shed 0.57 million.

The informitv Multiscreen Index is based on services that regularly report subscriber numbers, rather than analyst estimates.

The Global Pay TV Operator Forecasts report is published by Digital TV Research. The quarterly Multiscreen Index report is available from informitv.