For now, pay TV seems to be holding on. There are more pay TV homes in the world than online video-on-demand subscriptions such as the over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms.
But that is the case globally; break it up by country and a different picture emerges. In the United States, for instance, 81 per cent households have at least one OTT subscription; 51 per cent have pay TV. The ratio will keep changing in favour of online, says a report on The Future of Pay TV and Streaming Video by Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director, media and entertainment, at UK-based Omdia.
“The crossover from pay TV to SVoD (streaming video-on-demand) happened in 2020. But it is not necessarily about pay TV’s decline. Some technologies within pay TV, such as cable, are in decline. IPTV, on the other hand, is rising,” says Tony Gunnarsson, principal analyst TV, video, and advertising, Omdia.
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IPTV, or internet protocol television, is video delivered on a closed proprietary network, such as LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network). It is different from OTT in that OTT is delivered on the open internet.
Gunnarsson points to the mixed trends in pay TV around the world: growing in South Korea, Indonesia, and France while declining sharply in the US, India, and Brazil. The interest in bundles that offer high-end cable channels with OTT and internet access continue to drive growth and consumption. Just like in the US, pay TV as a standalone idea is in decline in the UK as well.
“As a European, when I think of broadcast media, I think of public service broadcasters such as the BBC (Britain) or NRK (Norway). Most of the public service broadcasters have already made the transition successfully. The future proofing of broadcasting is happening through the iPlayer (the BBC’s digital offering) and it is not in competition with Netflix or Sky. They are doing what they do best, investing in local content. Therefore, broadcast TV will continue through adoption of newer methods,” says Gunnarsson.