Infonetics chartAccording to recent market research, cable operators still rule the roost when it comes to the number of worldwide pay-TV subscribers, but satellite and IPTV providers are poised for a takeover.

The report by Infonetics Research said Comcast was the global pay-TV leader, with more than 22 million subscribers last year.

“Cable video still makes up over half of the global pay-TV market, but revenue growth is decelerating due to a slowdown in new subscribers, especially in the lucrative North American market, as competition from satellite and IPTV operators intensifies and as OTT offerings from Netflix, Hulu and others siphon away a small but growing number of households,” said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access and video at Infonetics Research.

A recent study by Strategy Analytics found that while the cable TV market sector will see a decline in overall subscribers, digital cable TV subscribers will increase – from 49 million last year to nearly 54 million in four years.

Last year, the global pay-TV market, which includes cable, satellite and telco IPTV video services, totaled $261 billion and was forecast by Infonetics to grow to $371 billion by 2016.

Infonetics said that North America was again the highest-value video market due to high ARPU, but Latin America and Asia are gaining ground as a result of expanding subscriber bases. For example, Mexico’s América Móvil’s pay-TV subscribers and revenue grew in the triple-digit percents in 2011 from 2010, while South Korea video provider KT’s grew in the double digits.

Aside from Comcast, the report said that DirecTV remained the other global market leader for pay-TV revenue and subscribers. DirecTV enjoyed the highest ARPU due to the high take rate of its value-added services and premium content, such as the NFL Sunday Ticket.

The report also found that last year, the top 20 pay-TV revenue leaders accounted for 50 percent of the revenue, while the top 20 subscriber leaders represented just 30 percent of subscribers.