Despite the threat of Internet video, coupled with a decline in the North American pay-TV market, global pay-TV subscribers will increase 5 percent this year to 858.1 million.

A recent study by ABI Research found that the Asian-Pacific market, which is expected to add more than 27 million pay-TV subscribers this year, will drive the key growth area.

The report also singled out subscriber declines by cable operators in the United States. In the first two quarters of this year, cable TV operators lost nearly 1 million subscribers, although they were able to offset some of those losses with increases in broadband subscribers. IPTV, which has less penetration than cable or satellite in the U.S. market, gained around 600,000 subscribers during the same period.

“As broadband adoption grows, it is likely that pay-TV subscribers are switching to Internet TV services. Internet TV services are cheaper than traditional pay-TV services, or even free of charge. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc., are cheaper alternatives for pay-TV subscribers, especially in these uncertain economic times,” said ABI Research’s Sam Rosen, practice director of TV and video.

ABI Research projected that the overall pay-TV subscriber base in North America at the end of this year will decline 0.2 percent from 2011.

The Asian-Pacific region is expected to see the strongest growth in digital TV subscriptions in 2012. The ongoing digitization process in countries, such as India, has been steadily increasing digital TV penetration.

“Overall, the Asia-Pacific digital cable TV subscriber base is expected to reach 213 million by the end of 2012, a 27 percent increase from 2011,” said Khin Sandi Lynn, research analyst at ABI Research.