The dynamic growth of satellite TV broadcasting in Central and Eastern Europe shows no signs of slowing.
This week alone we have learned that the Croatian incumbent telco T-HT has made its highly successful service MAXtv available nationally via DTH, employing three Eutelsat transponders located at 16 degrees East.
We now also know that Bulgaria will effectively have a new DTH platform from the beginning of next month. Incorporating the existing service Total TV, which has had a troubled history and is currently believed to have only around 50,000 subscribers, it will be distributed by SES Astra from 23.5 degrees East and go head-to-head with Bulsatcom and Vivacom.
The launch of Satellite BG will be an important milestone for SES Astra, which is rapidly regaining lost ground in Central and Eastern Europe following UPC Direct’s migration to the one degree West slot last year.
Just last month the company announced that it had secured Central European Media Enterprises (CME) as an anchor customer for its 31.5 degrees East orbital slot in Romania and Bulgaria. Now, it has effectively raised its own flag in the latter through the distribution of Satellite BG.
Satellite BG will in fact become only the second DTH platform in the two countries to employ the services of SES Astra – the other being Romania’s AKTA – though of course in the wider region the company also distributes such highly successful services as the Czech/Slovak operations Sky Link and CS Link.
Alongside the rollout of MAXtv and launch of Satellite BG comes the news that Cyfrowy Polsat, Poland’s largest DTH platform, went from strength to strength in 2010, ending the year with almost 3.5 million subscribers.
However, this is tempered by a growing realisation that the country’s DTH market is now close to saturation and some consolidation almost inevitable. Cyfra Plus continues to be mentioned as a possible take-over target, and close attention should be paid to Deutsche Telekom and its plans for Poland, which quite probably include buying an existing DTH platform or launching a new one.