When we look back at consumer expenditure on pay-TV and alternative entertainment options during past economic downturns across major countries, we find a broad confirmation of the industry’s comparative resilience.

Also found are variations between services sold through annual contracts and cancel-anytime rivals, a negative impact on big-ticket products, and opportunities for substitutional services.

Unique features in the current crisis include the suspension of sport broadcasts and an SVOD-rich offering which widens consumer options. If hardship persists, incumbents like Sky could face tougher times than during the financial crisis.

Across the EU4, pay-TV is proving resilient in the face of fast growing Netflix (with Amazon trailing), confirming the catalysts of cord-cutting in the US are not present on this side of the Atlantic. Domestic SVOD has little traction so far.

France's pay-TV market seems likely to see consolidation. Meanwhile, Germany's OTT sector is ebullient, with incumbents bringing an array of new or enhanced offers to market.

Italy has been left with a sole major pay-TV platform—Sky—following Mediaset's withdrawal, while Spain's providers, by and large, are enjoying continued growth in subscriptions driven by converged bundles and discounts.

The UK continues to lead the EU5 in take-up and consumption of video-on-demand services, with close cultural alignment and a historic williness to pay for TV content making it a receptive home for US SVODs

Netflix dominates in most markets, benefiting from high-profile US imports and big-budget local productions. Local SVODs are struggling, with those operated by FTA broadcasters facing considerable challenges

Collaboration between local broadcasters and pay-TV platforms is essential if they are to hold at bay the threat of Netflix and co., with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment opening the door for unprecedented collaboration

Across Europe, markets are becoming more competitive. Incumbent pay-TV paltforms (e.g. Sky or Canal+) face increasing threats from both internet-based services (e.g. Netflix and Amazon), and telecoms operators

Telecoms providers are proving the most potent challengers as they enter the premium football rights market to create attractive triple and quad play bundles – examples include BT, SFR and Telefónica. The latter is now the main pay-TV operator in Spain whereas France’s Canal+ has entered into a strategic alliance with Orange

Across the top five markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy), Sky remains the leading operator with an estimated 21.5m video subscribers, twice as many as Netflix

 

The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results

Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising

Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse

Declining broadcast viewing to the TV set among younger demographics, fragmentation of video viewing across screens, the lack of robust measurement of viewing across screens and the development of online video advertising technology are altering the European TV landscape

Programmatic TV is at an early stage, but has shown its potential with increased audience targeting options and campaign automation: the roll-out of programmatic models and ad technology for European TV advertising have already prompted advertisers to see TV in new ways, beyond its core strengths in mass brand advertising

Automated ad technology can support the existing linear broadcast ad infrastructure; in addition we project a combined potential for annual increased TV ad revenue of €220-300m by 2018 in the seven markets of the study, driven by new advertiser spend on addressable TV advertising and programmatic broadcaster OTT

With 84,000 net pay-TV additions in 2006, Sogecable resumed subscriber growth, but we expect this pace to decline in 2007 unless Sogecable re-positions on basic and expands distribution from satellite to cable and DSL

Spain’s top football club FC Barcelona (Barça) has threatened to withdraw its broadcast licence from Sogecable unless it matches an offer from Mediapro that is almost double the current annual fee for the two football seasons commencing 2006/2007 

The present TV advertising slump appears due to a uniquely British combination of very rapid digital TV growth and singular advertising airtime regulations that include the Contract Rights Renewal (CRR) remedy