Russia’s Tricolor tipped to become bigger than Sky

Russia’s Tricolor is set to overtake BSkyB to become Europe’s second largest pay TV operator by 2018 as the market continues to see growth, according to a new study by Digital TV Research.

Sky will see its subscriber number rise from 10.33 million to 10.84 million, while low-cost DTH provider Tricolor will jump ahead growing its 9.2 million paying subscriber base to 15.75 million by 2018, according to the study.

Liberty Global is tipped to remain in the top spot overall, having extended its lead this year as Europe’s largest pay TV operator with the acquisition of the UK’s Virgin Media.

However, the European Pay TV Operator Forecasts report says that Liberty Global’s subscriber count is “not expected to grow by too much”. The company will also have to deal with converting some 13.9 million analogue cable subscribers in 2008 to “virtually none” by 2018.

Among the top five European pay TV operators, Liberty is projected to increase its subscriber numbers from 20.97 million in 2012 to 21.25 in 2018.

Tricolor will the follow, with Sky next. Fourth place Kabel Deutschland will remain roughly steady, increasing its subscriber count from 8.14 million to 8.16, while Russia’s Rostelecom will grow from 6.6 million to 7.13 million.

Overall, pay TV subscriptions for the 102 operators across 26 countries covered in the report are tipped to rise from 131.9 million in 2012 to 147.1 million by 2018.

However, Digital TV Research warned that not all operators will increase their subscriber count, with 37 expected to see declines between 2012 and 2018.

“Traditional pay TV operators now face greater rivalry than ever before – either from other pay TV platforms such as IPTV or satellite or from ‘free’ multichannel TV services such as DTT and online TV and video,” said the study.

Total subscription and VOD revenues for the 102 operators are tipped to increase from US$34.5 billion in 2012 to just US$35.1 billion by 2018, with 45 of the operators expected to see a fall in these revenues.

BSkyB is expected to remain the top pay TV operator by subscription VOD and VOD revenues in 2018 with these coming in at US$6.53 million, followed by Liberty Global with revenues of US$4.97 million.