The unexpected sale of the DTH platform Total TV’s operations in Croatia is significant on at least three levels.
Firstly, it changes the dynamics of the country’s pay-TV marketplace, greatly strengthening position of the cable operator B.net. Its owner BEWAG Group, which is an Austrian utilities company, has through the acquisition created an operation much more capable of taking on the incumbent telco T-HT.
Already the owner of the most successful IPTV platform in Central and Eastern Europe – as of the end of Q3, MAXtv had 271,000 subscribers – the latter is currently preparing for the launch of its own DTH service. Distributed by Eutelsat Sesat 1 at 16 degrees East, where it has already been undertaking trials, this will go head-to-head with BEWAG’S Total TV and RCS/RDS-owned Digi TV, which also operates in the country.
Secondly, the sale of Total TV’s operations in Croatia could signal the start of a withdrawal from, or scaling back of, Mid Europa Partners’ (MEP’s) involvement in the region’s TV industry. While the investment fund’s plans for Total TV elsewhere are unknown – the platform is present in several countries that once made up the former Yugoslavia – it is certainly interested in selling its stake in Aster, Poland’s fourth largest cable operator.
Thirdly, the sale goes against a trend that has recently become noticeable in the region’s DTH marketplace. With consolidation yet to get under way in earnest and indeed new platforms continuing to appear on an almost regular basis, we have been seeing the emergence of more pan-regional players.
MEP’s Total TV and it can also be argued Deutsche Telekom’s T satellite platforms have joined the ranks Liberty Global’s UPC Direct/Focus Sat, RCS/RDS’s Digi TV and MTG’s Viasat operations in the Baltic Republics.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Total TV deal in Croatia was how unexpected it was. More surprises may soon follow.