Cable and satellite television

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The operating revenues of cable and wireless (mainly satellite) television companies increased 10.6% from 2008 to $11.4 billion (current dollars) in 2009. Revenue growth exceeded 10% for the fourth consecutive year, following two years of somewhat slower growth in 2004 (+9.2%) and 2005 (+7.5%).

The number of subscribers to the main services offered by cable operators (television, Internet and telephony) reached 16.6 million on August 31, 2009, 1.0 million more than in 2008. More than half of these new customers were telephone service subscribers.

The number of wireless television (mainly satellite) subscribers rose to 2.7 million on August 31, 2009, compared with 8.1 million for cable television. For the first time, in 2009, a majority of cable subscribers were using digital technology for television services. As of August 31, 2009, 58.3% of cable television subscribers had chosen this technology, compared with 49% in 2008. Almost all wireless service subscribers were using digital.

Cable operators earned $2.5 billion of profits before interest and taxes in 2009. This represents 27.5 cents of profit for each dollar of revenue and the highest profit margin since the beginning of the decade.

Wireless service providers, mainly satellite providers, posted profits before interest and taxes of $70.2 million, or 3.2 cents of profit for each dollar of revenue. For the third consecutive year, this segment of the industry generated profits, whereas it consistently suffered losses before interest and taxes between its emergence in 1997 and 2006.

Available on CANSIM: table 353-0003.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2728.

The publication Cable and Satellite Television Industry, 2009 (56-209-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Sylvain Ouellet (613-951-2779;, Business Special Surveys and Technology Statistics Division.