Chris Dziadul looks at the rollout of HD services across CEE
Every so often it’s worth taking a step back to appreciate just how rapidly the market is changing in Central and Eastern Europe.
The roll out of HD services, in particular, has been little short of spectacular in the last few months and looks set to continue at breakneck speed for the foreseeable future.
Poland has undoubtedly taken a leading role in the process, with the ITI Group-owned DTH platform n setting the ball rolling last autumn with the launch of three channels. It is now preparing to go one stage further by offering HD content on a VOD basis from later this month.
Other players in the country have responded to n’s activities with some gusto. The rival DTH platform Cyfra+, for instance, launched its first HD channel in December 2006, and Cyfrowy Polsat could have up to five – starting with a HD version of Polsat Sport – up and running by the end of the year. TVP has meanwhile become the first station in Poland to transmit a programme in HD over the Internet, leading independent production companies such as ATM Grupa are now making HD content and at least one cable operator – Multimedia Polska – will be offering its subscribers HD programming by the end of this year.
Russia is also moving full steam ahead into the new world of HD. Sometime later this month NTV-Plus is expected to launch three channels dedicated to sport, movies and live documentaries, and the MMDS operator Kosmos TV will follow with its own package of services in the autumn. Other players, including ComCor TV, are likely to move into HD in the near future.
Elsewhere, the incumbent Czech telco Telefonica O2 began a HD trial over DTT in 2006 and the country’s first HD channel – Nonstop Kino HD – could make its debut later this year. And in Estonia, the recently launched DTT platform operated by the Levira/Starman joint venture Estonian Digital Television Ltd (EDTL) employs MPEG-4 compression and is well geared up to offering HD services.
Central and Eastern Europe is rapidly catching up with the rest of the continent in the rollout of HD services, and the coming months will undoubtedly see many more interesting developments.