Sky UK pay-TV business bucks trend

LONDON - Sky's UK pay-TV business is set to weather the recession better than other European pay-TV operators, media analysts have predicted.

Sky: UK pay-TV business is weathering the recession better than European operators
Sky: UK pay-TV business is weathering the recession better than European operators

The company is expected to maintain customer growth, control churn and maintain average revenue per user, according to the Screen Digest 2009 forecast released today.

The report said free-to-air digital terrestrial TV would be least affected by the recession, as its growth prospects are tied to analogue switch-off schedules instead of the economy.

In the mobile market, Screen Digest said premium content such as TV and VoD would be the first to suffer, as consumers begin reducing their mobile phone bills. Instead, the company predicted operators and handset manufacturers will turn to offering free bundled subscriptions.

Operators are forecast to use music content to attract and retain customers and aggressively push mobile broadband as a viable alternative to fixed line internet.

Ronan de Renesse, head of mobile at Screen Digest, said content providers would be less dependent on phone operators, choosing instead to explore application stores such as Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market.  

He said: "The economic downturn will push operators to release their grasp on the mobile content industry and open up mobile internet. So, against all odds, 2009 will turn out to become the most successful year for mobile content so far."

Elsewhere, the report predicted cinema would flourish, driven by the conversion of cinemas from 35mm to digital.

David Hancock, head of film and cinema at Screen Digest Digital, said: "Digital is not just a replacement technology - it is a refreshment technology for cinema. It will breathe new life into the cinema offer (such as 3D and opera) and attendance, vital in the recession."

In October, a ZenithOptimedia advertising report predicted cinema ad spend would grow by 4.7 per cent in 2008, and 3.9 per cent in 2009.

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