2020 promises to be another year of significant change in Central and Eastern Europe.
One of the biggest M&As is likely to be the sale of Telekom Romania, most probably in the first half of the year. Other companies that may see a change of ownership include Liberty Global’s two remaining UPC operations in the region, serving Poland and Slovakia.
What will be particularly interesting to see will be the strategies adopted by such key players as M7 Group, Orange, Vodafone, PPF Group and Deutsche Telekom. M7 Group, Vodafone and PPF Group, in particular, have expanded their presence in the region significantly in recent months and are likely to continue doing so in 2020. Deutsche Telekom, on the other hand, will certainly retain its strong presence but focus on some markets and exit others, such as Romania, for instance.
On the content side, Netflix will probably continue to make progress in larger markets such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, but less so in smaller ones. Local OTT services, headed by ivi, will remain dominant in Russia and significant players across the region.
Major changes are certainly on the horizon for some markets. In Ukraine, for instance, satellite TV signals will be encrypted early in the New Year and it is widely expected the move will have a hugely beneficial effect on the country’s pay-TV industry.
While competition is undoubtedly one of the principal driving forces in the industry, cooperation also has an important role to play. As the year draws to a close, we have seen the three main broadcasters in Poland join forces with smaller ones to form a new association whose aims are to develop a new standard in media research. Such initiatives are likely to be replicated in other regional markets in 2020.