Decline in pay TV subscribers

Subscriptions for pay TV, the majority of which are with Cable Bahamas (CBL), dropped from 65,900 in 2019 to 62,400 in 2020, showing a continued decline in customers over the past four years.

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) revealed the numbers in its just-published 2020 Annual Report and 2021 Annual Plan, which showed that the last time the service saw growth was in 2017, when there were 76,300 subscribers.

“CBL retains the position as the leading provider for pay TV services in The Bahamas, notwithstanding BTC’s challenge commencing in 2016 with its provision of Flow TV services to selected islands. CBL continues to offer pay TV nationwide. But despite competition entering the market for this service, five years of data shows that there has not been a consistent growth trend and subscriptions have declined in the past four years,” URCA states.

“The trend indicates that this service has been on a downward trend prior to COVID-19. In 2020, this service saw a further five percent decline in subscriptions compared to 2019. This followed a nine percent decline when looking at 2019 versus 2018 subscriptions.”

URCA revealed in March that Cable Bahamas had applied for approval to restructure its REV TV offers for residential and business pay television subscribers.

CBL’s repackaging entails a net reduction in the number of channels for REV TV Prime (residential and business), the movement of several channels between existing packages and the creation of several “add-on” packages targeted toward specific audiences.

In its application, CBL stated that the declining number of subscriptions was due to an increasing number of people preferring to stream TV services to watch content when and where they desire, instead of watching the traditional TV services offered by CBL.

Along the same line as pay TV, service providers also saw a decline in broadband internet subscriptions in 2020.

According to the data provided by URCA, there was a slight three percent decrease in the number of broadband internet subscribers last year.

“BTC, CBL and a number of smaller, independent internet service providers (ISPs) offer fixed internet services through broadband infrastructure in The Bahamas. CBL holds SMP (significant market power) for their provision of high speed internet and connectivity services in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Abaco. In the islands that CBL does not provide broadband internet services, BTC has been designated by URCA as having SMP,” URCA states.

“URCA examines these services from standalone broadband connections and multi-broadband connections. Overall, fixed broadband services showed a slight decline to the tune of 80,913 (2020) from 83,403 (2019), representing a three percent drop. Conversely, the penetration rate went from 21.64 percent (2019) to 20.78 percent (2020).”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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