Chris Dziadul looks at the SBS takeover
ProSiebenSat.1’s €3.3 billion acquisition of SBS Broadcasting is likely to have far-reaching consequences on the TV industry in Central and Eastern Europe.
A merger between the two groups, which should be completed at the beginning of July, will lead to the creation of a new media empire spanning 13 European countries and encompassing 24 FTA TV stations, 24 pay-TV stations and 22 radio networks. Among them will be SBS Broadcasting’s TV interests in Hungary (TV2) and Romania (Prima TV), both long-established stations arguably in need of a boost.
TV2 is one of two national commercial stations in Hungary. Launched at the same time as the other (RTL Klub) in late 1997, it has in recent years fallen behind its close rival, especially in the lucrative 18-49 demographic so sought after by advertisers.
Romania’s Prima TV also made its debut 10 years ago. Backed by SBS Broadcasting since 2000 – initially as a minority shareholder, before being finally taken over in 2005 – it reaches 90% of the urban population via terrestrial and satellite-to-cable distribution but operates in an overcrowded and highly competitive marketplace.
Although SBS Broadcasting has over the years been present in other regional markets – it was at one time behind TVN in Poland and Kanal A in Slovenia, and more recently built up a portfolio of radio stations in Bulgaria – the main focus of attention has for some time been Hungary and Romania, with further acquisitions seemingly not on the agenda.
However, the new-look ProSiebenSat.1, incorporating SBS Broadcasting, may soon change all that. By buying SBS Broadcasting, the Munich-based group has given itself a foothold in Central and Eastern Europe and is unlikely to settle for ownership of just TV2 and Prima TV.
Its first priority will be to boost the standing of both stations, after which further acquisitions will probably be on the agenda. Competition with the likes of RTL and CME, market leaders in Hungary and Romania respectively, will certainly intensify.