LONDON: Digital penetration will exceed half the TV households in sub-Saharan Africa within five years as the switchover from analogue is completed, a new study has said.

The report from Digital TV Research, Digital TV Sub-Saharan Africa Forecasts, looked at 35 countries and estimated that nearly every home will be converted by 2020, when two thirds of TV homes will be receiving DTT signals, up from less than one fifth at the end of 2013.

In all, around 28% of TV households will have satellite dishes (pay and free-to-air combined) in 2020.

But while the region will add 20m TV households between 2013 and 2020 to reach 68m, there will still be more than 100m without a TV set. The report said that by 2020 TV penetration of total households would stand at only 38.4%.

"This reveals the long-term potential for the region, with plenty of growth expected beyond the forecast period," said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

"The construction of next generation broadband networks will ensure that satellite TV and DTT will not be the only growth areas," he added.

There were a total of 11m pay TV subscribers at the end of 2013, of which 8.5m were pay satellite TV. The pay total is forecast to more than double to 25.65m by 2020, with satellite TV contributing 14.34m and pay DTT another 8.86m.

South Africa accounted for a significant proportion (44%) of total pay TV in 2013, with the total of 4.84m predicted to increase to 6.85m by 2020. Nigeria was expected to triple from 2.12m pay TV subscribers in 2013 to 6.15m in 2020.

Excluding the relatively mature market of South Africa, Direct TV Research said the number of pay satellite TV households would more than double between 2013 and 2020 to 8.17m.

In terms of pay TV revenues, the report anticipated that the current figure of $3.17bn would grow 69% by 2020 to reach $5.35bn.

Satellite TV presently accounts for nearly all pay TV revenues, but pay DTT will make inroads (contributing $742 million in 2020).

The report also noted that competition and take-up of the cheaper DTT packages would force down average revenue per user in most countries.

Data sourced from Digital TV Research; additional content by Warc staff