Chris Dziadul reviews 2007 in CEE
2007 was undoubtedly an eventful year in Central and Eastern Europe’s (CEE’s) TV industry. While lacking in eye-catching headlines, it saw a number of interesting trends that point to a promising future.
The first was undoubtedly the rapid rollout of HD services. The year began with them only just having appeared on Cyfra+ and the recently launched n in Poland. As it draws to a close, viewers in Poland alone have a choice of nine, with several more likely to become available in the next 12 months. In Russia, the DTH platform NTV-Plus launched three HD channels in April, and only this week HD Media added two more to the total.
Elsewhere, HD trials have also got under way in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, while in the Baltic Republics both Levira and Elion in Estonia are already distributing HD channels.
2007 has also seen a slow though steady growth in IPTV services across the region. While take-up is still anything but high – O2 TV in the Czech Republic now claims 70,000 subscribers, while Poland’s videostrada only had 50,000 in October – the general trend is positive.
This is particularly the case in Russia, where Stream TV, which is backed by Sistema Mass Media (SMM), is the undoubted market leader. Though accurate figures are hard to come by, it is probably correct to say that there are now in the region of 150,000-200,000 homes in the country receiving IPTV services, with the number set to rise significantly in 2008.
Less promising, perhaps, are developments in the DTT sector. As the year draws to a close, the only country with a fully operational national service is Estonia (ZUUMtv), though the Czech Republic has begun the transition to digital broadcasting in earnest and is offering DTT channels in its largest cities.
Poland, so progressive in other respects, still remains at the starting block, while Russia has only just, after years of debate, finally agreed on a digital strategy. Meanwhile in Hungary, a long-awaited DTT tender, due to take place this autumn, has been put back to April 2008.
2007 was certainly an eventful year for DTH broadcasting across the region, with the take-up of services growing rapidly thanks largely to the success of Romania’s Digi TV, which is present in six countries, and Poland’s Cyfrowy Polsat. The Polish platform n, however, has been the real trendsetter, its offer of HD, VOD and PVR likely to be replicated by most of the leading DTH services in tCEE in the next year or two.
For cable, on the other hand, 2007 was a largely quiet year, with highlights including the continued rollout of digital services in such markets as Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. However, many changes lie ahead in the year to come – both for cable and the TV industry as a whole – and these will be previewed in the next issue of Broadband TV News.