Romania will end this year with effectively 100% pay-TV penetration.
That much can be deduced from the latest data published by the regulator ANCOM, which shows that as of June 30 the figure already stood at 98%. This compared to 95.6% and 91.2% one and two years earlier, meaning that there has been a final surge in the take-up of services since 2015.
A closer examination of the figures reveals some interesting trends. For instance, there is definitely consolidation now taking place in the market, or at least the cable sector. While the number of DTH and IPTV providers – five and two respectively –remained unchanged between mid 2015 and mid 2017, the number of cable operators fell from 274 to 229.
Furthermore, the number of DTH homes is also falling. The figure as of June 30 this year stood at 2.35 million, which was 3% lower than the same period in 2016.
One the other hand, cable and IPTV take-up is growing, with the number of subscribers increasing by 5% to 4.87 million in the case of cable and 19.5% for IPTV to 4.87 million and 110,000 respectively in the year to June 30.
As can also be expected, the take-up of digital services, already of course 100% in DTH and IPTV, is increasing in the cable sector. However, as of the middle of this year the majority of cable homes in the country (56%) were still analogue.
Overall, the number of digital pay-TV subscribers was 4.6 million as of June 30, a 3% increase on the same period last year.
Romania’s pay-TV industry is now a quarter of a century old, with the first cable licences having been awarded by the National Audiovisual Council (CNA) in 1992. Indeed, its cable industry grew remarkably in the first few years and as of 1997 already had around 2.2 million customers, making it the second largest cable market in CEE at that time after Poland.
DTH services have also had a chequered history and despite the closure and/or merger of several services it still maintains five platforms. IPTV, on the other hand, remains a slow burner.
Having reached such a significant milestone, it will be interesting to see where Romania’s pay-TV market goes to from here.