There are approaching 100 million television subscribers in Western Europe and in five years that number is forecast to rise to 105 million. Pay-television revenues are projected to grow by almost 12%, from $33.9 billion in 2015 to 37.9 billion in 2021. Over the same period, revenues from over the top online services are forecast to more than double from some $3.6 billion to around $7.4 billion. However, another forecast suggests that there will be no overall growth in pay-television period over the same period. As far as forecasts go, it seems you pay your money, you take your choice.

“Western European pay-TV operators have invested in new technologies to create an impressively sophisticated operating environment,” commented Ovum analyst Adam Steel. “Value added services like bundled VOD catalogues, DVRs and HD are keeping existing clients happy enough to retain the service but also, crucially, they are still attracting new subscribers too.”

Western Europe pay television revenue forecast 2016-2021. Source: Ovum.

So far, television service providers have successfully addressed the challenge of online video services. “No-one should underestimate the challenge posed by Netflix and other OTT services,” added Ovum analyst Tony Gunnarsson. “But our research shows that Netflix’s growth is slowing in mature SVOD markets such as the UK and Scandinavia, indicating that after an initial growth spurt in each market its rate of progress begins to decelerate.” Subscribers to services like Netflix typically also subscribe to pay television and users are increasingly using both.

A separate forecast from Digital TV Research suggests that overall pay-television revenues will not grow over the same period. It notes that Liberty Global and Sky Europe will together continue to take just under half of the region’s revenues. The Digital TV Research report forecasts that Liberty Global will lose 1.15 million subscribers, mostly analogue ones, between 2015 and 2021. It says that Sky will gain 354,000 satellite subscribers over the same period, while Telefonica will gain 1.23 million and Altice nearly a million.

Western Europe: Pay-TV & Free-To-Air Forecasts to 2021 is published by Ovum. Western Europe Pay TV Operator Forecasts is available from Digital TV Research.