European cable market on the rise

U.K. and Spain lead use of 'triple-play' services

LONDON -- Revenues from the European cable market grew 5.4% to 18.8 billion euros ($26.8 billion) in 2008, driven by combined offerings of cable TV, telephone and Internet access, according to new figures from Screen Digest and Cable Europe published Monday.

By the end of last year 29% of Europe's 71.6 million cable homes were digital, but penetration levels have remained flat as the sector faces increasing competition from such services as DTT, IPTV and satellite television.

The U.K. remains Europe's largest digital cable TV market with 3.5 million digital homes, followed by Germany with 3.3 million digital cable homes and the Netherlands at 2 million digital cable homes. The U.K. and Spain remain the biggest taker of so-called "triple-play" services.

Screen Digest analyst Guy Bisson forecast that digital cable will continue to drive growth, but warned of increasing competition in the market as suppliers vie to offer a range of services beyond television access.

"In most countries the position of cable operators within the television market has changed drastically in recent years. Although TV remains core to the cable industry's business model, investments in triple-play services are allowing cable operators to maintain revenue growth in the face of intense competition and the economic downturn."