Romania’s TV market was never large enough to sustain five DTH platforms. But will three still be too many?
Romtelecom’s decision to buy both Boom TV and AKTA Satelite has certainly shaken things up, not least by making the telco the second leading provider of pay-TV services in the country – just ahead of UPC but still a good way behind RCS&RDS.
However, the latter, with some 3 million subscribers to its Digi –branded cable and satellite operations, could end up with nearly four times as many as Romtelecom should it buy UPC Romania from Liberty Global.
While such a deal still remains at the rumour stage, Liberty is known to have been unhappy with the performance of its cable operation in Romania for quite some time.
Yet the same cannot be said for its Focus Sat DTH platform, which continues to grow – unlike its UPC Direct sister services in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – despite strong competition from other Romanian satellite operations.
Following Romtelecom’s acquisitions, Focus Sat could nevertheless find itself squeezed out of a market dominated by two much larger platforms operated by the incumbent telco and RCS&RDS.
Romtelecom’s deals probably mark the start of a period of consolidation in Romania’s pay-TV market that could well end with the country being served by only two DTH platforms and two to three large cable operators.
It could also be followed by similar developments in other CEE countries. While those in the cable sector are already under way – Liberty Global’s acquisition of Aster in Poland and changes in ownership among some of Russia’s leading operators being a recent good examples – consolidation in DTH has yet to happen.
When it finally does – and despite the continued launch of new services – we are likely to see the number of platforms operating in the region fall some way below its current level of around 50.