Cord-cutting takes hold in Europe

Pay TV subscribers are in declining across a large part of Europe as well as the US as customers cut the cord in favour of other services, according to new research.

‘Cord-cutting’ has previously been thought of as a largely US phenomenon, but research house IHS has identified twelve European countries that have suffered an overall decline in pay TV numbers in the first three months of the year.

Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Poland are the dozen in question and IHS says the subscriber reverses show that cord-cutting is now a reality in Europe.

Noting that there is a sustained downturn in pay TV customers in the US and a new group of ‘cord-nevers’ who have never taken a pay TV service, IHS said that six of the twelve European markets losing subscribers are going through their second quarter of decline ‘suggesting a sustained softening of pay TV across much of the region’.

However, of the big five European pay TV territories of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, only Italy registered a pay TV downturn. France, Germany, Spain and the UK are all growing above the European average.

“Hardest hit are the Benelux and Scandinavian markets along with some of the smaller Central and Eastern European markets where recent strong growth is now reversing,” IHS noted.

It added: “While individual markets like Italy and the Netherlands have had several quarters of decline, a sustained two-consecutive-quarter decline in such a wide-range of markets is a worrying trend for the industry as a whole.”

The cord cutting can not, IHS said, be attributed solely to the entrance of over the top players such as Amazon and Netflix. “The current trend is likely a combination of factors including an over-hang from the recent economic downturn and the wider impact of new technology in the home broadening the consumption choices of the average consumer,” according to IHS.