Mainland digital cable TV subscribers swell to 12m

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am

Digital cable television subscribers in the mainland almost doubled in number in the past eight months, driven by growth in major southern cities.

The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (Sarft), the media industry regulator, said digital cable television had reached 12 million to date, up from 6.5 million in the first half of last year.

Cable television users in Shenzhen, Guangdong and Qingdao were more receptive to digital service. Progress in Beijing and Shanghai was slower, Sarft said.

The government is pushing digital service in Beijing, the host of the 2008 Olympics, and Shanghai this year. Beijing targets one million new digital service customers out of three million cable users by year-end. It had only 17,859 digital cable television users for the first half.

Cable television users in more than 25 mainland cities migrated to digital service last year after the government subsidised the cost of new set-top boxes. Digital cable users now account for about 10 per cent of the 130 million cable users.

Mainland digital cable television subscribers are expected to increase 66 per cent by the end of this year to 20 million, according to research firm Media Partner Asia.

However, revenue from value-added services, such as paid channels and other interactive services, would account for only 3.8 per cent of total cable revenue, it said.

Vivek Couto, executive director of Media Partners, said the nation's digital cable television generated US$260 million in subscription fees for basic service and paid channels accounted for only US$100 million.

Total revenue from both digital and analogue services was US$2.6 billion last year.