Dutch cable fights back

The fast growth of KPN’s terrestrial platform Digitenne has started to hurt the subscriber figures of Dutch cable operators. Ziggo, UPC, CAIWay and Delta, the four largest operators, have now started to fight back with a major marketing campaign emphasising the better picture quality of cable.

At the end of September, KPN said it had over 670,000 DTT homes (see Broadband TV News passim) using very aggressive advertising campaigns which claim that by subscribing to Digitenne, people can save up to €100 per year when they switch from cable to DTT. Cablers are now feeling the pinch: UPC saw its penetration of TV homes drop below 75%, while Ziggo is hovering around 80%. Traditionally, cable enjoyed penetration figures well into the nineties.

With the new campaign, the operators are stressing the much better picture quality and choice of channels available on cable. They back up this claim by using the results of a recent study by the Dutch Consumentenbond (consumers union) that found the picture quality of cable to be superior to that of DTH and DTT.

Most Dutch cable headends are directly connected via fibre to the Media Gateway facility in Hilversum, where the major public and commercial broadcasters feed their signals. The bitrate for each of the national public channels, Nederland 1, 2 and 3, and all channels from both RTL and SBS Broadcasting is around 8 Mbps. Media Gateway is owned and operated by NOB Cross Media Facilities.