Is Poland’s DTH market, like its cable industry, heading for consolidation?
This week we learnt that Cyfra+, the second largest satellite platform, saw zero growth in its subscriber base in 2010. Instead, its already up-market clientele spent significantly more on advanced services.
Cyfrowy Polsat, the market leader, meanwhile ended 2010 with 3,434,000 TV subscribers – over double the 1,500,000 claimed by Cyfra+ – or 230,000 more than 12 months earlier. While it expects the figure to grow more this year, its focus is now very much on the rollout of new services such as internet access and (from Q4) catch-up TV over the internet.
Cyfrowy Polsat’s president Dominik Libicki has already gone on record as saying that the platform would be in the market to buy one of its competitors should they come up for sale. However, he has also categorically denied that there have been any talks about the possible acquisition of Cyfra+.
Like Cyfrowy Polsat, the DTH platform n is gaining subscribers, ending Q3 2010 (fourth quarter and full year results are due out on February 22) with 739,000, or 29% more than 12 months earlier. Its sister service Telewizja na karte (TNK), which is available on a pre-pay basis and also has a special HD offer, saw its customer base rise by an even more impressive 75% over the same period to 279,000.
TP, the DTH service operated by the incumbent telco of the same name, has also enjoyed steady growth and ended Q3 2010 with 380,000 subscribers.
The question now is who will buy whom? While Cyfra+ seems be many peoples’ ‘favourite’ to be taken over, this is far from a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, alliances could be forged by some platforms (Cyfra+, for instance, already cooperates with TPSA) or new players enter the marketplace.
One such player to definitely look out for is Deutsche Telekom, which barely a month ago became the sole owner of the Polish mobile company Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC). It has placed itself in a strong position to enter the TV market by buying one of the existing DTH platforms in Poland should it wish to do so.