Tricolor TV is undoubtedly one of the big success stories of recent years.
Launched at a time when satellite TV services in Russia were effectively monopolised by NTV-Plus, it soon became the fastest growing pay-TV operation in Europe, leaving new competitors such as Orion Express and Raduga trailing in its wake in terms of subscriber numbers.
Indeed, by this March it already had over 10 million – the total now stands at over 11 million – of who some 7.7 million received paid-for services. Some 30 million people, or over a fifth of Russia’s population, watch its output.
Other, equally impressive figures include that Tricolor TV now accounts for 39% of pay-TV subscribers in Russia and 86% of the DTH sector. Moreover, it is already the world’s third largest DTH platform, ahead of India’s Dish TV and the UK’s BSkyB, and is expected to move up to the number two slot, behind the US’s DirecTV, by the end of next year.
2012 has been an eventful year for the company on many levels, with one of the highlights undoubtedly being the launch of a HD package in April. HD services have been slower to take off in Russia than in most other European countries and Tricolor TV now aims to become the leading provider on a mass scale, targeting a subscriber total of over 7 million by 2014.
This will be equivalent to almost half of its total subscriber base, which is projected to reach 14.5 million by the beginning of 2014.
However, alongside this success has come criticism, not least from Russia’s cable industry and other DTH platforms, over Tricolor TV’s pricing policy. Many operators believe they are being undercut to the extent that their businesses are in jeopardy.
It’s also interesting to note that there is a view that Tricolor TV is taking such measures ahead of a possible IPO.
There have already been important changes this year at the platform in terms of ownership (the latest of which was approved last month by the Federal Antimonopoly Service) and management (its CEO leaving only this week).
All in all, these are interesting times for Russia’s DTH market and in particular its leading player.