In a region where pay-TV is king, the Czech Republic, with its clear preference for FTA terrestrial services, appears to be the odd one out.
As we have reported this week in Broadband TV News, well over half (58%) of households in the country, according to a study by Digimonitor, favour such services as the main source of TV reception, with DTH (26%) and cable (24%) trailing some way behind. IPTV, in a sector dominated by the incumbent O2, can only muster 7%.
The reasons for this are partly historical, going back over two decades. The Czech Republic was one of the first countries in CEE to introduce national commercial TV broadcasting, and the initial popularity of at least one station – CME’s TV Nova – acted as a brake of sorts on the take-up of cable and DTH. This contrasted with the situation in neighbouring Hungary, a similar-sized market both in terms of population size and number of TV households, where the late arrival of national commercial TV services allowed the cable sector, in particular, to flourish.
More recently, the Czech Republic was also able to carry out a reasonably smooth transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting. It currently has four national multiplexes, operated by Ceska Televize, Ceske Radiokomunikace, Czech Digital Group and Digital Broadcasting, that taken together offer viewers close to 20 channels free of charge.
Alongside this there is a regional multiplex (RS8) that as of this summer offered seven TV channels to over 57% of the Czech population.
However, key to the success of terrestrial TV in the Czech Republic is that it is not stuck in a time warp and moving forward technologically. The country is one of the CEE region’s main advocates for HbbTV, which has now been adopted by all its main broadcasters, most recently TV Nova. It is also moving ahead with the transition to the DVB-T2 standard.