Clear Cignal
KAPATID DAY - Peachy Vibal-Guioguio (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2015 - 12:00am

Cignal, the new kid on the block in the area of pay-TV services, has taken the market by storm and has fast become the industry leader. A subscription-based direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV provider, Cignal Digital TV, under the MediaQuest Holdings of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) Group, has changed the competitive landscape since its launch in 2009. By December of 2014, Cignal had 97 channels, including 27 high-definition channels.

The  pay-TV market penetration nationwide is still relatively low at about 19.7 percent of TV households numbering about 17 million as of 2012. With the growing affluence and varied tastes for high quality programs and high fidelity/ high definition reception, the market for pay-TV services is bound to increase in the coming years. 

Outpacing other pay-TV providers that have been in existence for more than 20 years now, Cignal is set to become the country’s biggest pay-TV service provider by the end of 2015, according to Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP), chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and concurrent TV5 chairman. “By the end of this year, if fortunate, we will hit one million subscribers because we already have about 845,000 as of end of last year. Usually, in the first quarter, the growth is leaner but it pays up by the second, third, and fourth quarters,” Pangilinan said during a briefing on PLDT’s 2014 financial results. Cignal’s 2014 figures showed an increase of 13 percent over its 2013 total of 630,000 subscribers.

According to Emmanuel C. Lorenzana, president and CEO of Cignal (and also of TV5), the pay TV-market continues to grow with the main thrust coming from DTH technology, which Cignal represents. “We had a banner year in 2014 when our subscriber base for prepaid and postpaid users increased to 545,000 and 299,000, respectively. Our market share way back in 2010, or our first year of operation, was only seven percent; by end of 2014, it was 32 percent —  the biggest single share of any company in the Philippine pay-TV industry,” he stressed.

“Moreover, the pay-TV penetration in the Philippines is relatively low compared to our Asian counterparts with developed economies such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan where pay-TV subscriptions average to about 100 percent of all households. The Philippines as a rising economy (or, as what economic observers have noted, a rising economic tiger in Asia) surely has a lot of room for pay-TV to growth and we are both excited and challenged by this prospect. Based on 2014 country to country and company to company comparison figures, Cignal is the second fastest-growing pay-TV operator in Southeast Asia,” Lorenzana added.

In terms of regional growth, Cignal has been growing exponentially in the north of the National Capital Region (NCR) and the Visayas with annual growth rates of more than 100 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. Growth in Southern Luzon and in Mindanao was 97 percent and 78 percent, respectively. According to Oscar Reyes Jr., Cignal managing director and chief operating officer, “One major reason for Cignal’s upturn is its reliability and quality of service that led majority of its new customers to switch from their previous pay-TV provider to Cignal — 629,000 to be exact.”

Cignal is the pay-TV provider of choice for many of the country’s top and prestigious hotels and resorts that are well-known for their hospitality and world-class quality service, such as Amanpulo, Marriot, Misibis Bay, among others. In fact, in 2014 alone, Cignal has added another 1,983 hotel rooms in its institutional service points.

Content-wise, according to Cignal marketing head Guido Zaballero, Cignal continues to innovate and improve on its program line-up, adding up new channels such as Lifetime, HGTV and Travel, which are geared towards “the growing preference of Pinoys for quality of life programs that support their increasingly changing and more sophisticated lifestyles.”  Cignal has also teamed up with the MVP Group telecom companies to offer seamless subscriber service and best deals. It has also pioneered in prepaid subscriptions, allowing for user access to selective programs without the financial burden of monthly subscriptions.

So how is the TV landscape changing and what is Cignal’s place in this scheme of things? I think that viewers are benefitting with the entry of new players and innovative ideas into the business. Cignal has not only opened up the market for quality and exciting television to the ordinary Pinoy wherever he or she may be in this vast archipelago of ours; it has also linked our more than 7,000  islands into one. Today, no boundaries exist for the Filipino television viewer and Cignal has opened our eyes to these limitless possibilities.

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