On the evidence of what I saw earlier this week in Dubrovnik, New Europe Market (NEM) has a promising future.
Launched only a couple of years ago and still very much finding its feet, NEM nevertheless delivered. In particular, the conference side of the event included some panel discussions that provided invaluable insights into the CEE market from a truly local, though high level, perspective.
The probably standout one involved Pete Smith, Pavel Stanchev and Henning Tewes, the respective heads of Antenna International, BTV Media Group and RTL Croatia. Following introductions in which they provided stats on the declines in the TV ad markets they represent in the region, they turned their attention to the issue of on demand services such as Netflix and what the local industry approach to them should be.
It was then that a real difference emerged, with Tewes saying that RTL would find it difficult to itself become a platform operator but may make money through selling content to SVOD services. Smith, on the other hand, conceded that while it would be challenging for broadcasters to become technology companies, it was something they had to do, otherwise they would slowly devalue their own companies.
Stanchev meanwhile spoke from the experience of someone in the region already operating a SVOD service. Offered by CME-owned broadcasters in six CEE markets, he revealed that Voyo was enjoying particular success in Slovenia.
Another panel featured Apostolos Triantafyllou, Thomas Staneker and Nikola Francetic, of Eutelsat, Deutsche Telekom and Telekom Austria respectively. They engaged in a general discussion on the importance of satellite delivery in CEE, with Staneker conceding that the German telco, a key player in the region, cannot reach 100% of its homes without satellite. Both he and Francetic spoke about the importance of content, while Triantafyllou said satellites become efficient when looked at from a scale perspective and that it was important for operators to follow trends such as Ultra HD.
While perhaps not as stand out as the panels that followed, the first one at NEM featured Sasa Runjic, Sasa Kramar and Guy Bisson, from HRT, Iskon and Ampere Analysis respectively. In it, Runjic revealed that the Croat public broadcaster plans to launch its own OTT service next year.
He also said that it in fact increasingly sees itself as a content producer.
Asked about the upcoming appearance of global OTT players in the country, Runjic said that they would be a threat to the market, though not so much for HRT.
Other panels, again featuring high-level industry execs either based in CEE or with strong local knowledge, covered such subjects as sports rights and second screen. Though revealing little that was newsworthy for Broadband TV News, they still contributed immensely to what was a valuable event.