Paid TV subscribers up 6 percent in 2010

Cable companies aren't the beneficiaries of the worldwide boost, though. Satellite and IPTV providers are the ones who get the bounty, according to new stats.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

The total number of paid TV subscribers was up last year, but cable companies weren't so lucky.

According to In-Stat, the total number of paid TV subscribers around the world was up over 6 percent compared with 2009. The research firm said that gains in subscribers were seen in "nearly every region" around the globe. However, when it came to cable television subscriptions, only Western Europe saw a jump compared with 2009.

Elsewhere around the world, cable customers were migrating to satellite or IPTV, the research firm said.

Growth in the paid TV business in 2010 has helped stem concerns that the market was heading for a protracted downturn.

Last year, research firm SNL Kagan reported that the second quarter of 2010 was the first time that paid TV subscriber numbers fell. The industry lost 216,000 subscribers during that period year over year, the company said.

That report followed a similar finding from In-Stat, which found second-quarter figures in 2010 were down by 167,000 subscribers compared with the previous quarter. The company said at the time that the global economy was to blame. It was also quick to point out that cord cutters--those who eliminate paid television in favor of over-the-air, online, and streaming options--had nothing to do with the dip.

Even so, the Convergence Consulting Group reported last week that the number of cord cutters in the U.S. is on the rise. The research firm found that 2.07 million U.S. subscribers will have "cut the cord" between 2008 and the end of 2011. Between 2008 and 2009, just 550,000 households had eliminated their cable or satellite television subscriptions.

Comcast--still the world's top television provider--saw its subscriber numbers fall from more than 23.5 million in 2009 to 22.8 million last year.

Satellite provider DirecTV, by contrast, saw its subscriber figures jump from over 18.5 million in 2009 to nearly 19.6 million in 2010.

Dish Network's subscriber base was relatively static last year, jumping from 14.1 million in 2009 to 14.13 million subscribers in 2010.

Time Warner Cable dropped from 12.9 million subscribers in 2009 to 12.2 million last year.