Chris Dziadul Reports: Russian evolution

What lies in store for Russia’s TV industry?

A brief visit to the CSTB 2013 show in Moscow earlier this week convinced me that its future is hugely exciting, for this is a market that is changing – and indeed growing – at almost breakneck speed.

Take the DTH sector, which in recent years has come to be dominated – at least in terms of subscriber numbers – by Tricolor TV. It used the occasion of CSTB 2013 to announce its results for 2012 and provide details of what it plans to achieve this year.

That latter includes seeing its subscriber total growing to 14.5 million, with one in four receiving HD services, introduced by the company only a few months ago but already watched by a million customers.

Other platforms are responding to Tricolor TV’s challenge with some gusto. NTV-Plus, for instance, has expanded its service to the east of the country and will in due course be introducing competitively priced packages offered there in its general coverage area.

The aim is clearly to attract more subscribers, which Orion Express, now claiming over one million, has already done thanks to the expansion of its offer through the Telekarta and Kontinent TV services.

But CSTB 2013 was clearly about much more than Russia’s DTH market. We learnt, for instance, how the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS) plans to introduce HbbTV into the country, initially on a trial basis in three large cities.

When it came to exhibitors, the show offered a good mix of leading local established players, local and international content providers, key technology companies, satellite operators and – just as importantly – relatively ‘new kids on the block’, some of whom will probably become much better known in the future.

Those to look out for include X-Media Digital, which is developing into a leading new media content distributor in Russia, and Enaza, an internet technology company that specializes in developing online digital content stores for large telcos and organising multimedia services.

CSTB is by far the biggest TV industry event in Russia and planning for 2014 is already under way. Time to start thinking of another visit to Moscow next winter.