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 of 2017, compared with those of the previous six months.

According to Kathimerini news daily, this is the first time the pay-TV market has contracted since incumbent OTE Telecoms started offering services in 2010.

Up until now, growth of OTEs service has more than balanced out falling subscriber numbers for Nova, the Forthnet pay-TV service the first pay-TV platform to appear in the country.

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, raised the total levies imposed on pay-TV services to 40%.

There are currently some 950,000 pay-TV subscribers in the country, also taking into account IPTV 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.

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

Forthnet saw its Nova pay-TV subscriber base shrink by 8% to 423,279 from January to June 30. At the same time, OTEs service Cosmote TV saw its subscriber total increase by 9.8% to 503,800.

That was partly due to the fact that Cosmote bid and won over most major football tournaments from Nova, including UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, as well as the NBA championship in basketball.

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