Chris Dziadul looks forward to 2008
Having reviewed the major industry trends across the region in the last year, now is probably a good time to look ahead to 2008 and what it may bring.
A pointer to what probably lies ahead has been provided by this week’s surprise deal between CME and MTV over the latter’s interests in Romania. Most leading broadcasters – both commercial and public – will certainly seek to add to their portfolios of thematic channels as CEE as a whole moves from analogue to digital broadcasting.
This year has generally speaking been quiet on the acquisition front, with the recent collapse of the Polsat-Axel Springer serving to underline the point. 2008 may well be different, with leading broadcasters also opting to go down the Polsat route and raise money through IPOs.
Change can certainly be expected in the cable industry, with UPC at long last rolling out digital services in Poland and Hungary, its two leading markets, and perhaps also introducing VOD and HDTV. Not that other players will rest on their laurels: Multimedia Polska in Poland, Volia in Ukraine and RCS/RDS in Romania are three of several well worth keeping an eye on.
RCS/RDS is of course already a regional player, having a presence, through its DTH platform Digi TV, in no fewer than six countries. 2008 could see the latter extended to Slovenia and Bulgaria, though it remains to be seen how long its impressive success can continue.
The DTH market continues to defy market logic, with consolidation the exception rather than the rule. This could change in Romania in 2008, with the number of platforms falling from the current five to four or even three. On the other hand, Poland could see the addition of one or even two platforms to its existing three.
The take-up of IPTV services in CEE has been mixed to date, and this is unlikely to change much next year. Operations such as Russia’s Stream TV and the Czech Republic’s O2 TV that are already doing well will probably continue to do so, while those that have yet to take off (Hungary’s T-Home TV, for instance) may still find the going tough. The real change could be in the number of players, with several alternative telcos likely to launch services.
2008 could well be a breakthrough year for DTT across the region. Services are already up and running in Estonia and the Czech Republic, and several countries including Hungary and Russia finally appear to have a digital strategy in place. While there are unlikely to be many new DTT platforms in operation this time next year, clear progress toward ASO will probably have been made across the region.
All in all, 2008 promises to be as if not more eventful in CEE’s TV industry than this year has been.