The Greek pay-TV market has suffered a rare loss in subscriber numbers, with 15,000 fewer customers at the end of the first half than six months earlier.

This, reports Ekathimerini, is the first time it has contracted since the incumbent OTE began to offer services in 2010.

Up until now, growth of OTE’s service has more than balanced out falling subscriber numbers for the Forthnet pay-TV service. However, the first signs of a slowdown appeared last year following the imposition of a 10% tax on pay-TV services. This, coupled with 24% VAT charged on this tax, took the total levies imposed on pay-TV services to 40%.

The number of pay-TV subscribers in Greece increased by only 1,000 in 2016, compared to 81,000 a year earlier.

All told, there are currently some 950,000 pay-TV subscribers in the country, also taking into account services provided by Vodafone and Cyta. This represents a penetration of 24%, which is similar to other countries in southern Europe but much lower than elsewhere on the continent, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

Ekathimerini says that piracy is also holding back the pay-TV market in Greece. The 80,000-100,000 illegal devices currently being used to watch services for free result in annual revenue losses of around €20 million.

Broadband TV News notes that Forthnet saw its pay-TV subscriber base shrink by 8% to 423,279 in the year to June 30. At the same time, OTE’s service Cosmote TV saw its subscriber total increase by 9.8% to 503,800.

On the other hand, even Cosmote TV was hit by the downturn, losing 1,000 subscribers in the second quarter.