The three ‘buzzwords’ at this week’s IP&TV Forum in Istanbul were undoubtedly multiscreen, OTT and –– perhaps not surprisingly – IPTV.
Although the event did not focus on any particular market, it provided useful insights into developments in a number of CEE territories. In Hungary, for instance, we learned that Magyar Telekom is on track to launch a new hybrid interactive platform, while in the Czech Republic the public broadcaster, now headed by the former director of TV Nova, is making progress in HbbTV.
There were also useful updates on Russia, Macedonia and Romania. In the case of Russia, the broadband market is dominated by four players – Rostelecom, MTS, Beeline and ER Telecom, with respective shares of 37%, 8%, 7% and 7% as of Q1 2011 – with most other providers likely to be taken over by them in the next few years. The IPTV sector is meanwhile dominated by Rostelecom (700,000 subscribers), followed by Beeline TV and MTS, and growing fast despite still being a long way behind cable and DTH.
OTT services are also growing in popularity in Russia, with the five leading providers, headed by Now.ru and Yota Play, using TVOD and SVOD rather than ad-based business models.
In Macedonia, on the other hand, the incumbent telco Makedonski Telekom now has a three-screen offer: IPTV, with 110 channels and 35,000 subscribers; web TV, with 30 channels and 20,000-45,000 visits daily; and mobile TV, with seven channels and available only on variable bit rates.
In Romania, its counterpart Romtelecom is enjoying success with its web TV service. Launched in March this year and offering around 30 FTA channels, 40 catch-up channels and a library of over 200 movies on demand, it had 770,000 unique visitors in June alone.
Elsewhere, Telefónica O2 in the Czech Republic has had to change its strategy in the face of stagnating subscriber figures, a general slowdown in the pay-TV market and indeed strong competition from the likes of Skylink and UPC. It has done this by providing a free IPTV introductory offer; new pay-TV packaging; the same channels as DVB-T; and access to VOD, catch-up TV and network PVR.
While the situation in each CEE market and others also discussed at the forum, including host country Turkey, is different, they all face the same challenges and indeed opportunities. And OTT, many would agree, is something they will all have to embrace.