Greek Pay TV Subscribers Rise Amid Economic Woes

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While the ‎U.S. has seen a debate about cord-cutters, people in the southern European country have been looking for distractions from crisis coverage and new content after the shutdown of the former state broadcaster.

LONDON – ‎While in the ‎U.S., there has been much debate about whether economic challenges have led people to cut the pay TV cord, Greece has seen growth in pay TV subscriptions over the past couple of years despite economic woes.

The number of Greek pay TV subscribers has more than doubled, to about 760,000 from about 300,000 at the end of 2012, Bloomberg News reported, citing estimates from telecom and pay TV giants Hellenic Telecom and Forthnet.

That amounts to a market penetration of 19.5 percent of households after the figure had hovered at 11 to 13 percent for about a decade, it said.

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Bloomberg suggested that Greek consumers were looking for entertainment and distractions from news coverage of economic and other challenges, as well as different types of programs after the shutdown of state broadcaster ERT, which was later replaced by a network airing mostly news, documentaries and old Greek movies. Unemployment in the country stands at about 27 percent, retail sales have fallen for the past four years, and overall consumer spending has been unchanged.

"People are tired of crisis-related [news] bulletins," Bloomberg quoted a 29-year-old housewife as saying. "Pay TV may be an extra expense, but the deals are tempting." The woman said she is so fed up with bad news on Greek free TV that she spends about $95.35 (70 euros) per month for a package of pay TV, telephone and Internet services.

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She added that she also enjoys access to new types of content. “I can’t stand the traditional Greek TV shows. They are full of ridiculous people, half-naked women and can’t even make you laugh," Bloomberg quoted her as saying.

It quoted another consumer as saying that consumers make up the extra cost for pay TV by going out less and watching TV at home.

Twitter: @georgszalai