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Market Fragmentation Shifts Pay-TV Balance of Power

The big news this week in the U.S. market was the Netflix Q1 2011 results, which demonstrates that we continue to witness a period of significant transition within the realm of video entertainment market leadership.

That said, perhaps there's still an upside opportunity for legacy channel-centric pay-TV service providers that invest the time and effort to prepare for the apparent market segmentation challenges -- as on-demand services continue to gain market share.

Furthermore, while some of the world markets with a historically vibrant broadcast TV viewership have lost momentum, or are already showing signs of a major contraction, other emerging markets show promise.

In some regions of the world, market fragmentation is shifting the balance of power -- and the associated video entertainment revenue streams -- as a growing segment of consumers search for lower-cost alternatives to legacy pay-TV services.

Global Pay-TV Markets in Transition

As a result of the changes within the global economy over the last few years, pay-TV subscriber numbers had been negatively impacted. Today, few in the video entertainment industry dispute the new market realities.

However, the situation seems to be improving -- as the total number of pay-TV subscribers by year-end 2010 were greater than year-end 2009 by a little over 6 percent, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"Nearly every region showed gains or held their own in 2010. However, cable providers were impacted, to at least some degree, by a migration to satellite and/or IPTV in virtually every region," said Stephanie Pickering, Industry Analyst at In-Stat. "Only Western Europe showed any gains in the total number of cable TV subscribers."

In-Stat's latest market research insight includes:

- China has the largest number of pay-TV subscribers with over 160 million. Shanghai Media SiTV is the largest operator; however, no other pay-TV operator has more than 5 million subscribers.

- The largest regional market of IPTV subscribers is Western Europe with nearly 17.5 million subscribers, of which France has nearly 11 million, led by CanalSat-TPS (Vivendi) and Free (iliad).

- Net Servicos de Comunicacao of Brazil is the largest cable service provider in the Caribbean and Latin America region.

- AT&T went from the sixth largest IPTV operator in the world at the end of 2009 to the fourth largest in 2010.

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