In these increasingly difficult times, the performance of the DTH sector in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is undoubtedly a source of optimism for the industry as a whole.
Take Russia and Poland, two of the region’s largest markets. The former boasts both the longest-established platform (NTV Plus, launched in 1996) and the newest (Raduga TV, which has just made its commercial debut).
Moreover, it also has Tricolor TV, one of the fastest growing DTH platforms in the world. It ended 2008 with 4.35 million customers, a remarkable 190% more than only 12 months earlier.
In Poland, the market leader Cyfrowy Polsat goes from strength to strength. However, so do its main competitors Cyfra+ and n, and indeed the recent market entrants Orange and TNK. There were already around 4.7 TV million homes in the country receiving DTH services at the end of 2008, and that figure could rise to close to 6 million by the end of this year.
Elsewhere, Romania is still defying all the odds by supporting five DTH platforms, though talk of consolidation is never far away. While the RCS/RDS owned platform Digi TV remains the undisputed market leader, Romtelecom’s Dolce continues to snap at its heels, reducing prices and pushing its subscriber level to over 600,000.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have meanwhile become DTH markets to watch thanks largely to the activities of the pre-pay Sky Link operation, which is present in both countries. It already has a combined total of over 500,000 customers and continues to enhance its offer by, for instance, the addition of more HD channels.
The DTH sector in neighbouring Hungary has been boosted by the recent debut of T-Home Sat, a platform operated by the incumbent telco Magyar Telekom, while Ukraine has a relatively new DTH market with enormous potential. DTH services are well established in the Baltics thanks to the activities of MTG, while Serbia’s Total TV is one of the leading players in the Balkan region.
Can all this continue? Undoubtedly yes, though we are likely to see fewer platform launches, and probably some consolidation, in the months to come.
Still, these seem more like heady than difficult times for the region’s DTH sector.