MTG president Hans Holger Albrecht has said he expects revenues from the Viaplay service go some way towards compensating for a continuing decline in DTH satellite subscribers.
“It’s a normal process in the value chain and sales channels. DTH is declining and will decline in the coming years while the virtual operator is growing and we have seen increases in the number of customers coming to Viaplay,” Albrecht told an investor call on MTG’s half-year results.
Premium subscribers for the Nordic DTH platform fell to 1,031,000 from 1,039,000 in the first quarter and 1,048,000 in Q2 2011. In an increasingly competitive market Viasat, third party subscriptions have gone someway towards compensating for the fall in premium satellite subscribers. PVR, HD and Multiroom subscriptions continue to rise.
Annualised average revenue per premium satellite subscriber (ARPU) increased by 7% year-on-year to SEK 4,926 (4,594), and was up from SEK 4,866 in the first quarter of 2012.
While no subscriber numbers are currently being published for the OTT service, Albrecht says this was down to competitive reasons; the Viaplay subs were going some way to offset the DTH business. “We can always argue when it comes to ARPU and margin, but the fact that we have a low price strategy today doesn’t mean we will have so in ten years time.”
Viaplay is available through PCs, connected TVs and smartphone apps. The Netgem-manufactured Viaplay box offers access to 24-streamed Viasat linear TV channels, 6 DTT freeview channels, and Viaplay’s broad on-demand range of streamed TV series, movies and live premium sports.
With the prospect of launches in the Nordic region from both HBO and Netflix increased investment will be made in both Viaplay and sports rights; with the anticipation of greater competition in connected TV services money has been set aside for the promotion of Viaplay in the autumn.
“We see Netflix as a competitor and take them seriously, so we’ve got a nice marketing campaign planned, but we’ve secured the majority of the rights for sports and TV programmes,” said Albrecht.
The year-on-year sales growth in the emerging markets was mainly driven by subscriber intake by the Russian wholesale channel business, as well as the Baltic, Ukrainian and Russian satellite platforms, which followed the same seasonal pattern as in the first half of 2011.
Viasat’s Emerging Markets satellite pay-TV operations added 96,000 net new subscribers year-on-year and 5,000 subscribers on the quarter.
The growth reflected the addition of sports content and launch of two new Viasat Sports premium pay-TV channels in the Baltics, as well as the successful launch of the HD offering in Ukraine.