Changes underway on Dutch TV market

Monday 30 October 2017 | 14:23 CET | Background

With the Q3 reporting season well underway, we take a look at the latest customer numbers and developments on the Dutch pay-TV market. Netflix showed its first signs of slowing customer growth in the Netherlands, while Fox Sports defied the usual negative seasonal effect. Telecompaper's consumer panel also shows more and more people are watching live TV on their smartphones. 

Netflix's quarterly results showed strong growth in international subscribers, but in the Netherlands it added just 50,000 new customers, equal to growth of 2 percent in its total base. This is the lowest quarterly growth since Netflix launched in the country in September 2013. 

Local competitor Videoland on the other hand showed quite strong growth. While Videoland's net customer additions were also just 50,000, the percentage growth is much stronger, at 13 percent, given its smaller base. That's more than double the growth rate of 5 percent in the previous quarter. Videoland appears to be finally gaining pace, with its total customer base approaching 400,000. Nevertheless, it is still in second place, well behind Netflix with a share of around 80 percent of the VoD market, according to our Dutch Video report.

Fox Sports shakes off seasonal effect

After years of usually losing customers during the summer due to the absence of football, Fox Sports this year managed to continue its growth during the period. The figures suggest not only did it attract new customers, fewer existing customers cancelled their subscription during the summer. The reason is the new subscriptions the broadcaster implemented last year at all the major pay-TV providers. This makes the service cheaper or even free with some subscriptions or providers. 

Fox Sports Eredivisie (three channels) got a big boost when KPN signed a new contract, and many smaller TV providers followed. Now Fox will have to start growing on its own strength. The company has some time until the next major contract negotiations in 2020 with the biggest TV provider, Ziggo.

VodafoneZiggo extras

VodafoneZiggo does not really need Fox's new offer yet, as it's offering its own Ziggo Sport Totaal and Movies & Series (X)L as a free bonus for customers taking high subscriptions or combining fixed and mobile services. The same as HBO and Fox's customer numbers benefitted when KPN started offering certain customers free access, VodafoneZiggo is recording more customers for its premium packages Ziggo Sport Totaal and Movies & Series. 

VodafoneZiggo's packages with HBO content, new since the start of 2017, are used by around 1 million households. Around 15 percent of those have Movies & Series L, which is offered free if customers take both Ziggo’s fixed services and a Vodafone mobile subscription. The rest use the Movies & Series XL package, which is included in the Max TV subscription or available for EUR 11.95 per month with other TV subscriptions. Besides Movies & Series L, fixed-mobile customers can also opt for Ziggo Sport Totaal as their free bonus. These customers have increased quickly in recent quarters, to almost 390,000 households now using the Ziggo sports package versus 250,000 in Q1 2017. 

Live TV watched more on smartphones

While we are all familiar with the drop in linear TV viewing, there is more to the story. Jan de Jong, head of the Dutch public broadcaster NOS, recently discussed with the newspaper NRC the supposed trend of less TV viewing, noting that linear TV is only measured over TVs, while viewing on smartphones, tablets and computers is not counted. "The idea that linear TV is showing a spectacular drop is just not true," he said.

Our figures back this up. Consumers report that they use the TV in the living room the most for watching live TV (92%). At the same time, watching TV on a smartphone has become much more common in the past two years: 12 percent of Dutch consumers say they do this, up from 7 percent in 2015. If we add tablets (also 12%), laptops (11%) and PCs (7%), it appears TV viewing is not on the decline at all. 

Live TV is mainly watched over apps from KPN, Ziggo and other TV providers, as well as the broadcasters' websites. Consumers using OTT services with live TV are still few in number and hardly growing. NLziet is crawling towards 150,000 subscribers, while T-Mobile's Knippr has not even passed 10,000. Since Play van KPN no longer offers HBO, its subscriber numbers have fallen to the same level as Knippr. 

Changes in winter watching

Will the new TV season bring further changes to the market? There are a few signs already that market remains dynamic:


  • NLziet has launched its new offer, following a successful beta test. 
  • The unlimited data bundles from T-Mobile and Tele2 could result in even less TV viewing, especially among 20-30 year-olds. This age group is most likely to take the unlimited plans and also has changing video habits. 
  • Netflix is raising its prices, which could lead to a further slowdown in its subscriber growth. At the same, T-Mobile has started a promotion offering six months of Netflix free with certain mobile subscriptions. 
  • Youfone has chosen a three-tiered offering for its entry on the TV market: 1) TV over an app with 21 channels in SD for EUR 9.95 per month; 2) the IPTV service TV Thuis with a set-top box and app with 23 HD channels including Fox Sports 1 for EUR 14.95; and (3) TV as part of a dual- or triple-play package from EUR 39.95 per month. 

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