The national authority of communications of Portugal, ANACOM, reported that the pay TV signal distribution service registered 160 thousand new customers during the first quarter of the year, which translates into an increase of 4% compared to the same period of the year. past, and corresponds to the highest annual growth in absolute terms seen since 2016. At the end of March there were 4.1 million subscribers to the service. In the quarter, 89% of households were customers of pay television service, three percentage points more than in the same quarter of the previous year.
The growth of the service was due to offers backed by fiber optics (FTTH), which registered 271 thousand more subscribers compared to the same quarter last year, which corresponds to an increase of 15.9%, for 2 million clients. The registered growth contributed to the fact that fiber continues to be the main form of access to this service, with 48% of total subscribers. The second most used technology to access the service is cable, with 1.3 million customers, representing 32.2% of subscribers. This is followed by DTH, which has 11.2% of subscribers to the service, 4.7% to 462,000; and ADSL has 8.5% of subscribers, but registered a reduction of 19.7% in the number of clients, to 351 thousand.
In the first quarter of 2020, the downward trend in DTH subscriber numbers, which has been recorded since 2016, slowed. In this quarter, the number of DTH subscribers decreased 4.7% when it fell 9.1% a year ago. At least one provider has even seen an increase in the number of subscribers to this technology. This evolution may have been influenced by the state of emergency associated with COVID-19, which entered into force on March 19.
Also, the number of ADSL accesses was slightly above the forecast range resulting from recent historical developments. This evolution may also have been influenced by the state of emergency. The DTT frequency change process began on 02/07/2020 and was suspended on 03/13/2020 due to the restrictions associated with COVID-19.
Grupo NOS was the provider with the highest proportion of subscribers to the subscription TV signal distribution service (39.9%), although it was less than 40% for the first time, followed by MEO (39.7%), Vodafone (16.5% ) and NOWO (3.7%).
Vodafone and MEO were the providers that, in net terms, had the highest number of subscribers compared to the same quarter last year, with their shares increasing by one percentage point and 0.3 points, respectively. On the other hand, Grupo NOS shares decreased by 0.9 points and NOWO shares by 0.3 points.