Russian pay TV subscribers up 21% in 2009

But price reductions mean revenues up only 6%

MOSCOW -- The number of pay TV subscribers in Russia was up 21% to 14.5 million in 2009, year on year, said the international IT consulting firm J'son & Partners Consulting, adding that the increase in revenues still lagged behind.

"The main growth was accounted for by the active attracting of subscribers by the [satellite] operator Trikolor TV, while demand for pay TV as an inexpensive form of entertainment remained strong," Sergey Lee, key account manager at J'son & Partners Consulting, told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that revenues from individual subscribers were up only 6% in 2009, year on year, while the highest growth was achieved in the satellite and IPTV segments.

According to Lee, Trikolor TV was able to dramatically increase its subscriber base by substantially cutting prices for its services. "The price of Trikolor TV's annual subscription was comparable to that of some of its competitors' monthly subscription. That, on the other hand, had an impact on the substantial disparity between the growth in the number of subscribers and that in revenues."

In 2009, Trikolor TV, which the Russian investment company Finam said was the world's fastest-growing satellite operator, increased its subscriber base from 4.3 million to 6.2 million. Last year, an undisclosed share in the operator was bought by Gazprom-Media, the media arm of the natural gas giant Gazprom.

J'son & Partners Consulting predicted that Russia's pay TV market is set to continue to grow and could reach 22.5 million subscribers by 2014, while the market's total value could reach $1.5 billion.