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This report examines the reported content expenditure of 20 pay-TV operators between 2014 and 2018, and compares these costs with other relevant metrics including total opex, pay-TV revenue, and average video revenue per subscription.


  • Content spend is growing faster than pay-TV and video revenue. With most operators struggling to grow their subscription bases – particularly in mature markets – and video ARPU levels under increasing pressure, pay-TV revenue growth is struggling to keep up with the rising cost of content.
  • Content investment levels are rising steadily for the majority of operators. The costs associated with acquiring video content for pay-TV distribution have risen consistently for several years.
  • Programming costs are eating into overall opex budgets. Growth in pay-TV programming costs is outpacing that of overall operating expenses, with content representing the single largest opex item for several pay-TV distributors.

Features and Benefits

  • Details reported content spend for 20 pay-TV operators across multiple geographical territories.
  • Presents content spend as a proportion of TV revenues and of total opex.
  • Analyzes growth in operators' content spend both in absolute terms and in relation to other key metrics.
  • Examines content spend per video subscriber, and compares this with video ARPU levels.
  • Shows key growth indicators for 2018, plus longer-term CAGR.

Key questions answered

  • Which traditional pay-TV distributors are the biggest spenders on video content and to what extent has this expenditure been growing?
  • What is the difference in content spend between different types of player (e.g., pure-play premium satellite vs integrated multi-service cable/telco?)
  • How does growth in content expenditure compare with growth in total opex?

Table of contents


  • Introduction
  • Download 1: Pay-TV Operators' Annual Content Spend Roundup: 2018

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