At last there’s something to cheer about in the Baltic Republics, all three of which have been particularly hard hit by the global economic crisis.
Results just released by Modern Times Group (MTG) show that its premium DTH service in CEE enjoyed a good 2008, with its subscriber total rising by 54,000, or 32.9%, to 218,000. What is more, the last quarter accounted for nearly half (25,000) of this total.
Unfortunately, these figures now also refer to Viasat’s DTH operation in Ukraine as well as in the three Baltic Republics. This makes it difficult to assess Viasat’s true performance in recent months in the latter, though we can safely assume that subscriber figures are still growing.
So, too, is the choice of channels they are offered, with the proprietary Viasat Sport Baltic and Viasat Golf having recently been added to its line-up.
Other recently published results paint an equally positive picture in individual countries. In Lithuania, for instance, the incumbent telco TEO LT is doing an exceptionally good job in convincing viewers to switch to digital TV. Not only is its IPTV operation going from strength to strength, but so, too, is a DTT service it launched almost a year ago.
Meanwhile in Estonia, the Telekom Estonia subsidiary Elion saw its IPTV and cable subscriber total rise by 24,899, or 43%, to 82,500 last year.
Other developments also worthy of mention include Latvia’s decision to award a DTT licence to the Telia Sonera-backed incumbent telco Lattelecom, which already operates a successful IPTV operation.
Latvia looked odds on to be one of the first countries in the region to launch a DTT platform earlier this decade, only for the licensing process to collapse in controversial circumstances. Second time round, it will probably be one of the last, with a service likely to make its debut later this year.
No one can deny that times are hard in the Baltic Republics – to illustrate the point, Latvia’s economy contracted by an astonishing 10.5% year-on-year in Q4 2008 – and that the worse is still to come. Their TV industries are nevertheless bearing up well to the crisis and will hopefully continue to do so.