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The latest issue of the European Broadband Cable Yearbook has revealed a steadily growing industry characterised by mergers and acquisitions, rising 4% year-on-year to be worth €23.5 billion at the end of 2016.

The report, compiled by research firm IHS Markit and European cable trade association Cable Europe, showed that the number of unique cable homes in the EU continued to climb steadily, reaching 65.1 million at the end of 2016, representing 30.5% of total TV households. Germany remained the largest EU market, with over three times more unique cable homes than the next biggest markets — Romania, the UK and Poland — each of which had just over five million unique subscribers, compared with Germany’s 18.6 million.

In terms of worth, and reflecting trends in consumer behaviour, Internet revenue continues to rise, comprising by the end of the reporting period 34% of Western European cable operator revenue. The year witnessed a number of key content deals involving cable operators, the highest profile of these a global partnership agreement between Liberty Global and Netflix, which brought the online subscription video service to cable subscribers across Liberty’s footprint. Previously, the US cable company had only offered Netflix to Virgin Media subscribers in the UK.

The report found that marrying of content and ubiquitous access remains a key strategic focus for cable operators, who demonstrate their broadband superiority by connecting more and more customers to DOCSIS 3.0 networks and, eventually, DOCSIS 3.1 and its gigabit speeds. More M&A is also on the cards, it said.

“European cable operators are focused on providing the best services to their customers in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace,” said Maria Rua Aguete, executive director for media, service providers and platforms at IHS Markit, commenting on the findings of the findings. “Investments in network upgrades and advanced platforms have already delivered in terms of ARPU and revenue increases, and are set to do so again in the coming years. There’s plenty of room for further consolidation in cable, especially in fragmented markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Advanced TV services that cater to users’ changing expectations and needs will help operators deliver the best experience for their Internet and content offerings. Next on the horizon are widespread Ultra HD service roll-outs.”
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