Less than two years into its involvement in Poland, Scripps Networks Interactive finds itself facing an important decision.
As highlighted in a report in the newspaper Rzeczpospolita, time is fast running out for the national broadcaster TVN, which has been owned by Scripps since early 2015, to sell its 32% stake in the DTH platform nc+.
Following the creation of nc+ by the merger of n and Cyfra+ in late 2012, it had a four-year option to do so.
Rzeczpospolita outlined four possible scenarios, the first of which would see TVN sell its stake to Vivendi, the majority shareholder in nc+. The second would be to float the stake on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and third sell it to another party. The fourth would be to hold on to the stake.
The first and fourth options would arguably be the simplest ones to chose, while the second is unlikely to be favoured by Vivendi. The third is perhaps the most interesting, as three potential buyers have already been identified in the shape of Orange Polska, T-Mobile and Liberty Global.
The latter already holds a 17% stake in nc+ and buying TVN’s 32% would make it a majority shareholder in the platform. Whether Vivendi would favourably look this upon is another story.
Moreover, Liberty Global is currently in the process of buying Multimedia Polska, Poland’s third largest cable operator. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval and a move for TVN’s stake in nc+ could complicate matters.
Meanwhile, buying into nc+ would provide a significant boost for Orange Polska, the incumbent telco, and indeed T-Mobile.
Nc+ got off to the worst of possible starts when it made its official debut on March 21, 2013. Customer complaints about the new service, chiefly over the cost of some programme packages, threatened to derail the platform before it had become properly established.
Over three and a half years later this appears to be firmly in the past. However, nc+’s subscriber figures are lower than they used to be and it arguably needs to do something to compete more effectively in the marketplace.
A change in ownership may possibly be the answer.