Poland’s DTH sector has started the New Year in bullish mood, buoyed by the success of its leading platforms in 2009.
Both the market leader Cyfrowy Polsat and TVN’s two operations n and TNK performed remarkably well throughout the year, though especially in the last quarter. Cyfra+, the number platform in terms of subscriber numbers, also had a good 2009 but has yet to publish year-end figures.
However, despite its recent success, the DTH sector faces new challenges.
Firstly, it can be argued that the number of subscribers – estimated by industry sources to be around 5.5 million – is close to saturation. Hardly surprising, given that almost 30% of Polish TV homes already own a Cyfrowy Polsat decoder and just over 40% receive a DTH service.
As a result, operators will increasingly find themselves trying to retain existing customers rather than secure new ones. This will be done by improving their offers, adding new services and perhaps undertaking the kind of eye-catching promotions that Cyfra+ is currently running. Indeed, few subscribers are likely to turn down the chance to buy a 23-inch HDTV set for less than a quarter of a euro or a high-end HD PVR for half price.
The second reason Poland’s DTH sector may soon find the going tougher is the competition it faces from cable. Although the three leading satellite platforms – though in particular n – initially set the agenda in the new television marketplace by introducing such services as HD, VOD and PVR, cable operators are no longer playing second fiddle. With the number of digital cable homes now believed to be over one million, these services are now also offered or are about to be introduced by all the leading players, headed by UPC, Vectra, Multimedia Polska and Aster.
What is more, the anticipated consolidation amongst these players, expected to be led by UPC and the Swedish investment group EQT V, will ultimately make the cable industry an even more formidable opponent to DTH.
DTH platforms will certainly continue to play a hugely important role in Poland’s TV industry this year, though their position may not be as strong in 12 months time as it is today.