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Pay TV Loses Numbers in Developed Countries, Gains in Developing

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While ebbing pay TV subscriber numbers are standard in the U.S., many parts of the world are seeing pay TV growth. ABI Research notes that North American pay TV services lost over 3 million subscribers in 2017, most of whom made the switch to streaming services. Mature markets such as North America and Europe will see either a slight decline in subscriptions or sluggish growth in the coming years. However, the reverse is true in many developing markets. In Asia-Pacific, pay TV counted 656 million subscribers in 2017, a 7 percent year-over-year increase. 

“Pay TV and OTT offerings can vary dramatically between regions and between countries in terms of content availability and price," says Khin Sandi Lynn, an industry analyst at ABI Research. "OTT adoption in mature markets will impact pay TV adoption there, but the more reliable delivery and all-in-one nature of pay TV will prove valuable in those developing markets."

By 2022, the global pay TV market (including cable, satellite, and IPTV) will generate $295 million USD, showing a slow but steady growth despite OTT competition. Pay TV operators are responding the threat by adding over-the-top services to their platforms. For example, DirecTV created the DirecTV Now skinny bundle, and Dish Network created Sling TV. Another strategy is to provide streaming set-top boxes in lieu of cable boxes, so subscribers can access pay TV and streaming services from the same connected device. 

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