Pay-TV services are now the norm for most viewers in Central and Eastern Europe.
However, their penetration is so high in some markets it merits a special mention.
Take Romania, where the regulator ANCOM publishes half-yearly statistics on the country’s pay-TV market. The latest, released earlier this week and for the period ending June 30, 2016, show that nearly 96% of homes received some form of pay-TV service. In the year to June 30, the number of pay-TV subscribers grew by 5.5% to 7.2 million.
Both cable and DTH reception are firmly established in the country, with the former favoured in urban and latter in rural areas. IPTV, despite being available for a number of years, is still something of a sideshow.
Given these stats, it is hardly surprising that DTT has failed to make any sort of headway in the market.
Meanwhile, in Hungary the regulator NMHH also publishes pay-TV figures, and on a monthly rather than half-yearly basis. The latest, for August 2016, show that of the approximately 4.1 million households in the country, over 3.5 million, or 85.4%, opted for some for pay-TV service. Of the remaining 600,000, the majority watched DTT services via rooftop or indoor antennas.
Digital penetration is also growing rapidly in Hungary, with almost three-quarters (73.6%) of pay-TV subscribers opting for such services as of the end of August.
While there are many differences between the two markets, there are also a number of important similarities. The most obvious one is the presence of RCS&RDS in both, as well as Liberty Global (UPC) and Deutsche Telekom (Magyar Telekom and Telekom Romania) subsidiaries. In each case, they are one of the three leading providers of both pay-TV and broadband services in their respective countries.
Both markets are also moving rapidly towards pay-TV saturation, with Romania in fact almost there, and many others in the region are not far behind.