The global financial crisis has already claimed one casualty in CEE’s TV industry, with the Polish DTH platform Cyfrowy Polsat deciding to put back a long-awaited IPO until market conditions improve.
While the current instability will almost certainly put a break on other planned offerings, it will hopefully have less of an impact on the market as a whole.
2008 has certainly got off to an interesting start across the region and promises a great deal more in the months to come. In the cable industry, UPC will shortly start to roll out digital services in Poland and Hungary, its two leading regional markets, while in the DTH sector the take-up of services will probably continue to grow at an impressive rate, especially in such large markets as Russia, Poland and Romania.
The area to watch, however, is DTT, which after seemingly endless trials is finally set to become a reality in several countries. Though by no means a huge success story, the ZUUMtv platform in Estonia is already well established, while in the Czech Republic the rollout of services can continue following a settlement of the digital TV licence dispute late last year.
Two pivotal markets are Poland and Hungary. If all goes according to plan, the latter will finally see a tender, initially expected last autumn, sometime in March, and could even have a service up and running before the end of the year. Poland, on the other hand, could have a DTT platform as soon as 2009, though still has numerous obstacles to overcome.
Elsewhere, progress is certainly being made in countries such as Russia, which finally agreed on a digitalisation plan late last year, and Ukraine, which has already allocated some digital TV licences.
While 2008 will most definitely not be the year DTT starts to challenge cable, DTH and even IPTV in CEE, it should end with services much more widely available than they are at present.