Tom Butts /
12.06.2013 07:12 PM
The State of Television, Worldwide

Tom Butts

As we witness the evolution of what we still call “television” in the United States, it’s always useful to put it in the context of how the rest of the world views this medium. The rate of adoption varies from country to country but the digital revolution passed a milestone recently that was highlighted in a report from the ITU.

That milestone involved the adoption of digital TV. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population with TV sets are now within reach of a digital TV signal. The figure stands at approximately 55 percent as of 2012, compared to just 30 percent in 2008, according to ITU’s annual “Measuring the Information Society 2013.” The adoption rates vary from an estimated 81 percent of the total number of households in first world countries to 42 percent in the developing world.

More people worldwide now pay for their TV than get it over-the-air. At the end of last year, there were a total of 728 million pay-TV subscriptions. The adoption rate increased 32 percent between 2008 and 2012 and now stands at 53 percent, surpassing free over-the-air TV in 2011. Use of analog cable continues to decline, with digital cable subscriptions more than doubling over the last five years.

Not surprisingly, the report notes that pay-TV providers are facing continued pressure from over-the-top content, from services such as YouTube, Netflix and China’s PPLive service. IPTV has the highest growth rate of adoption, increasing more than fourfold from 2008 to 2012, however, it still represents a small fraction of total TV households, standing at just 5 percent at the end of 2012.

Globally, more than 1.4 billion households now own at least one TV set, representing 79 percent of total households; the report notes that “virtually all” households in the developed world now own a TV set while 69 percent own at least one set in developing countries. In Africa in particular, fewer than a third of the households own a TV set; one of the main reasons for the low rate is the limited access to electricity.

For retailers worldwide, many of them will be heading to CES next month with low expectations. Despite the hype around UHDTV, shipments of TV sets worldwide continue to decline. According to research firm IHS, 2013 will mark the second straight year of lower shipments in every category, from traditional cathode ray to LCDs. Shipments this year are forecast to fall by 5 percent (2012 saw a 7 percent decline).

IHS attributes the decline in shipments to a “wide range of factors” including a weak global economy to market saturation of flat-panel TV in developed countries and plunging CRT sales in developing countries. The researcher though, is optimistic that the rate of television shipments worldwide will increase 1 percent in 2014.

When considering how to evaluate all these statistics, we have to remember that the actual definition of television is rapidly changing, especially in the developed world. Will the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets mean continued softness in TV set sales, particularly among the youth? And how will increasing pressure on spectrum allocation affect over-the-air broadcast? How countries handle the television marketplace vary widely, from countries like the United States and Brazil where commercial television dominates the landscape to other areas where government controls the market. These factors cannot be ignored when considering such changes.

One thing is certain though. For the foreseeable future, television will continue to dominate how the world’s population gets its information and entertainment, whether it be by over-the-air, cable, satellite or IP. And for some, desperation just to access television can be a matter of life or death—just ask the people of North Korea, where a number of citizens were reportedly executed recently just for owning forbidden western television content.

Its importance cannot be understated.

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Posted by: Anonymous
Sat, 02-28-2015 03:08 PM Report Comment
So 1.4 billion homes out of 2 billion homes(79-81%)? have TVs worldwide? 750 million pay tv ?..only? 55% of them digital TV?and only 400 million smartTVs on IPTV... wow he the earthbound humans are really a primitive species... Let everybody have american TV programming even thou the TVs may be made in Japan, S Korea or China.I'll be willing to pay for it, woundn't you? 3 billion people on the internet,2.3 billion mobile broadband smartphones in 2015 1 billion tabletPCs,7 billion mobile phones? 1000Mbps is already obsolete... over 3 million american movies available at and online on various servers over 30 million songs at Deezer,Yahoo Music and other portals its more than we can watch and listen to in a lifetime of 80 years. 400 new videogames every year $35 bn on PS4 and XboxOne $15 bn for online games $15 bn/2014 for mobile smartphone games. yeah... What does a household need?///???? probably a home probably a car a smartTV(IPTV or SAT) a smartphone a laptop or tablet electricity gas water food clothes medicine&doctors schools&universities jobs bank savings pension funds clean air peace hypermarkets&supermarkets(malls) peace not war justice not revenge rapid evolution yours Tommy the SpaceCowboy

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