Study: Number of Global Digital TV Homes Hits 675 Million

North America generates just over half the world’s pay TV revenue, which hit $176 billion in 2011 with pay TV penetration around the world now at 52 percent.

LONDON – The number of digital TV households across 80 major countries – including the U.S., China, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Russia – hit 675 million by the end of 2011.

That brought global digital TV penetration to 49 percent by year-end 2011, up from only 24 percent at the end of 2007, a new study shows.

According to the report from U.K. industry specialist Digital TV Research, the 80 countries saw an average of 93 million additional digital homes plugging in each year between 2007 and the end of last year.

Of the 370 million digital TV households added between 2007 and 2011, about 194 million were in the Asia Pacific region, bringing its total to 274 million, the report shows. And China became the largest digital TV nation in 2010, with a rise to 149 million digital TV homes, or 22 percent of the world’s total, as of the end of 2011.

Regional penetration by the end of 2011 varied from 89 percent in North America to 33 percent in Latin America. Only Spain and Finland were completely digital by the beginning of 2012.

Pay TV penetration, combining analog and digital households, hit 52 percent of the world’s TV households by the end of 2011, up from 41 percent at end-2007.

Despite all the growth, analog terrestrial was still the most popular TV platform at the end of 2011, accounting for 31.8 percent of the world’s TV households, with analog cable second with 19.5 percent. Digital cable was the most popular digital platform, securing 16.9 percent of TV households.

The report also indicates a rise in revenue for operators. Pay TV revenue reached $176 billion in 2011, up 30 percent from $135 billion in 2007. And cablers -- analog and digital combined -- generated the highest revenue, with $89 billion in 2011.

But the report says cable revenues are flattening, and satellite TV is set to  "overtake cable soon."

IPTV revenue, a fairly fresh consumer offering, reached $10 billion in revenue in 2011, up from $1.5 billion in 2007. North America generates just over half the world’s total pay TV revenues, the report says.

Digital TV World Databook report author Simon Murray said: "Half the world’s TV households now receive digital signals. Digital TV penetration climbed from 23.5 percent at end-2007 to 48.5 percent by end-2011."

But he also noted that the stats also indicated that there were still 714 million analog TV households -- mostly terrestrial and cable, with a few analog direct-to-home (DTH) ones -- as of the end of 2011. "This total was down from 989 million at end-2007." Murray said.

Digital cable across the 80 countries polled showed growth hitting 235 million homes by the end of last year, up by 38 million over 2010 and there have been 15 million pay digital DTH homes added, totaling 154 million by year-end 2011.

Other tasty indicators show there are 109 million free-to-air digital DTH homes, while pay IPTV brought in another 51 million households, a rise of 16 million. Free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) homes reached 117 million, up 20 million, and pay digital terrestrial TV picked up a further 9.5 million.

Of the digital homes added between 2007 and 2011, around 75 million came from homes taking DTT, but not subscribing to pay TV services.

Digital cable was the most popular digital platform, pay digital DTH was next at 11.1 percent, followed by free-to-air digital DTH with 7.8 percent. About 8.4 percent of homes were primary free-to-air DTT, with 0.7 percent taking pay DTT. Pay IPTV penetration reached 3.7 percent at year-end 2011, up from only 0.6 percent at the end of 2007.