When it comes to being a cable subscriber, there’s currently no better place to be than Slovenia.
That, at least, was the impression I got at the ZKOS 2018 annual conference, which took place this week in the coastal town of Portoroz.
Picture a situation in which the market is dominated by three players – Telemach, Telekom Slovenije and T-2, in that order – and at the same time served by over 50 smaller players. It’s certainly overcrowded, given the country has a population of around 2 million and some 650,000 cable households. DTH take-up is minimal and a number of cable operators also offer IPTV services.
What is important to bear in mind is that many of the smaller operators are community owned and unlikely to be sold anytime soon. So, consolidation has in many ways ground to a halt.
This is good news for subscribers, who find themselves in a buyers’ market and can pick and choose who to receive their services from. Operators entice them with triple-play offers of €15 a month and when they expire after a few months, with prices doubling to €30-35, they simply find another operator with an enticing offer.
The icing on the cake, at least for subscribers, is that most operators offer HD channels and such additional services as on demand. Some, headed by T-2, have even introduced 4K.
From the operators’ perspective, however, the picture is not so rosy. The decision by Slovenia’s leading commercial stations to stop FTA broadcasting and become pay channels has certainly hit the cable industry in the pocket. Two important stats are that Pop TV, the country’s most popular broadcaster, is now charging operators €3 a month per subscriber to distribute its service.
Secondly, as a result of this, cable operators have been forced to increase their sub fees by16.5% in the past year.
With this in mind, the cable industry is seeking changes to the law so that basic packages are limited to must-carry services.
There is a fair chance this will happen, but not before next year. Indeed, matters have been made complicated by a recent general election, with the new government unlikely to put such a move at the top of its in tray.