BUSINESS

Cable TV Canada: Revenue Jumps To $11.6 Billion Even As Cord-Cutting Accelerates

04/09/2013 02:16 EDT
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A man holds a television remote control unit for a Virgin Media set top box in this arranged photograph at the company's store on Oxford Street in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global Inc. agreed to acquire Virgin Media, Britain's second-largest pay-TV provider, in a $16 billion cash-and-stock transaction announced in the U.S. yesterday. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A growing number of Canadians may be ditching their cable and satellite services, but there are plenty of others to take their place, data from the CRTC would suggest.

According to Canada’s telecom regulator, revenue at the country’s cable companies jumped 5.7 per cent in 2012, to $11.6 billion from $11 billion the year before.

The number of cable TV subscribers increased by two per cent, to 8.7 million subscribers.

Things were worse among Canada’s satellite TV companies, which saw the number of subscribers fall by nearly two per cent, to 2.8 million. Revenues at these companies also fell by about two per cent, coming in at around $2.5 billion for 2012.

However, the decline in satellite subscriptions and the increase in cable subscriptions may be linked to the same phenomenon: Many satellite TV providers, including Bell, are switching customers to TV-over-the-Internet services such as Fibe, which would bring satellite subscriptions down and cable subscriptions up.

A report from Convergence Consulting Group last week also found that the number of cable and satellite TV subscribers continues to grow, but at a much slower pace than had been the case in previous years.

While there were 233,000 new TV subscribers in 2011, in 2012 that number had shrunk to 52,000, according to Convergence Consulting’s study.

The company found some 250,000 Canadians had ditched their TV subscriptions as of last year, with another 133,000 expected to join their ranks this year.

New technologies, including online streaming services like Netflix, are making conventional TV less appealing to audiences who now have other, often less expensive, options for TV viewing.

In a sign of the changing times, TV ratings agency Nielsen has started to monitor “zero TV” homes -- households where there are no conventional TV connections.

The number of “Zero TV” households in the U.S. has jumped to five million, up from two million in 2007, the Associated Press reported.

And even among those still watching TV from conventional sources, there is reason for advertisers to worry.

The Convergence Consulting study found the number of Canadians using PVRs to record TV shows grew to 4.7 million in 2012, from 3.5 million a year earlier.

PVRs have been a source of worry for broadcasters, as they make it easy for viewers to skip commercials.

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