Top 50 operators take two-thirds of global Pay TV subs


Pay TV subscriptions for 522 operators reached 839 million in 2016 – or 87% of the 959 million global subscribers. The top 50 operators accounted for two-thirds of the world’s pay TV subscribers by end-2016. At that time, 15 operators had more than 10 million paying subscribers, according to the Global Pay TV Operator Databook. 

China Radio & TV is the world’s largest pay TV operator by a long, long way. Government policy to consolidate cable TV means that China Radio & TV quickly became the world’s largest pay TV operator, with 227 million subs by end-2016 – more than the next 11 operators combined.

Top 10 Operators by Subscribers (‘000)
1China Radio & TV (total)China226,535
2China Telecom (IPTV)China52,038
3BesTV (IPTV)China26,019
4AT&T (total)USA25,065
5Comcast (total)USA22,508
6Charter merged (total cable)USA16,836
7Dish TV (satellite)India13,582
8Hathway (total)India13,300
9Den Networks (total)India13,000
10DISH Network (satellite)USA12,521
Digital TV Research

Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “China’s and India’s dominance of the top pay TV operator rankings is increasing, partly as their subs bases climb but also due to US operators losing subscribers.”

Subscription and PPV revenues for the 522 operators were $185 billion in 2016. From the total, 30 pay TV operators earned more than $1 billion in revenues in 2016. The global TV revenue share for the top 10 operators was 55% in 2016, with the top 50 operators taking three-quarters of the total.

With low ARPUs and despite high subs numbers, Asia Pacific’s top operators are much less prominent in the subscription and PPV revenue rankings. This is where the US companies come to the fore – with six of the top 10 in 2016.