Satellite Television Gained Viewers in ’09

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Satellite television continued to grow worldwide in 2009 despite the economic downturn in some regions, with the global subscriber count increasing by 15 percent, to more than 130 million, according to a market study published Jan. 14 by Euroconsult of Paris.

Growth in emerging markets was especially strong, as some satellite platforms won new customers through aggressive pricing that Euroconsult said ultimately may have to be followed by increases in annual service charges.

Russia’s Tricolor TV, for example, has accumulated 3 million subscribers in three years in part by pricing its basic programming package at the equivalent of $1 per month, according to the Euroconsult study.

India, with six satellite platforms in service as of late 2009, counted 19 million subscribers in a market that was largely untapped before 2003. Central and Eastern Europe, which counted just 2 million satellite pay-TV subscribers in 2005, had nearly 16 million by the end of 2009, according to Euroconsult.

New pay-TV platforms also flourished in North Africa and parts of South America.

The only market in which revenue from satellite television did not grow was Western Europe, long considered the world’s most lucrative region for satellite television and home to the world’s second- and third-largest satellite fleet operators, SES of Luxembourg and Eutelsat of Paris.

Subscriber growth of slightly more than 4 percent in 2009 was not enough to increase total service revenue, which was flat compared to 2008 when expressed in local currency, Euroconsult said.

High-definition television continued its global advance. At the end of 2009, 46 satellite-television platforms carried HD programming, compared to 21 at the end of 2007.