India heads the list in pay television piracy in Asia-Pacific

India heads the list in pay television piracy in Asia-Pacific

New Delhi: India tops a list of 15 Asia-Pacific nations in terms of so-called pay television piracy that resulted in losses of $1.28 billion (around Rs6,030 crore), a rise of 12% compared with a year ago, a study released on Wednesday said.

Pay TV piracy is defined as cable operators reporting a lower number of subscribers than they actually service, according to Anjan Mitra, India executive director of Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa), which conducted the annual survey in association with Standard Chartered Bank.

This leads to the government earning lower taxes, Mitra said. It also means lower revenue for broadcasters.

The Casbaa survey said the Asia-Pacific region loses $1.94 billion in annual revenue due to TV piracy.

The survey also found that subscription or pay television in the Asia-Pacific—led by India and China which together account for 90% of all Asian pay TV subscribers—now reaches more homes than the rest of the world combined.

Digital pay TV subscription, which includes satellite TV and digital cable households, now account for around 115 million homes, of which India’s share is around 19 million. This compares with 69 million digital video connections in China. The region now has 326 million pay TV subscribers, including digital and analog services, up 26 million homes since the previous survey was conducted.

Last year’s piracy survey produced an estimate of $1.75 billion in annual pay TV revenue leakage in Asia-Pacific.

“This estimate uses highly conservative assumptions. Actual totals are likely to be much higher," Lee Beasley, director of media and entertainment, origination and client coverage at Standard Chartered Bank, said in a statement.

“Evolving factors (in TV piracy) in the past 12 months include the strong growth in the legitimate pay TV market, which inevitably has meant more piracy," Casbaa chief executive Simon Twiston Davies said in the statement. “As new content is made available in more Asian languages, the stimulus to piracy increases. Pay TV is becoming more attractive but that means more people want to steal."

However, an analyst said the increasing spread of digital TV services would lower such piracy in India.

“Though higher price has been a factor for the slow spread of digitalization (digitization) in India, now with more players and pricing competition between them, this problem is also being tackled," said Jehil Thakkar, executive director, media and entertainment, at audit and consulting firm KPMG. “So, piracy in India should come down in the coming years."