Boasting a population roughly the same size as Austria and Hungary, Belarus is very much on the periphery of Europe and rarely finds itself in the spotlight.
It nevertheless has dynamic pay-TV and broadband markets, the size of which would surprise many industry observers. According to the findings of a new report by S&P Global Market Intelligence, there were a total of 3.8 million pay-TV subscribers in the country at the end of last year. This was equivalent to a household penetration rate of 92.1%. At the same time, 3.2 million, or 75.7%, of households received fixed broadband services.
Significantly, the pay-TV and fixed broadband sectors had grown by 29% and 20% respectively over the previous five years to each become the third largest in Eastern Europe.
Growth in Belarus is mainly being driven by the incumbent telco Beltelecom and A1 Belarus, which was formerly known as Velcom. In a market with no locally operated DTH platform, the pay-TV sector is split between IPTV, cable and pay-DTT, with IPTV very much in the ascendancy. Indeed, as of the end of 2019 there were 2.228 million IPTV subscribers, or 58% of the total. This was over double the 1.050 million five years earlier.
The number of cable subscribers, on the other hand, stood at 1.458 million. This was equivalent to a market share of 38% and was down from the 1.965 million total posted five years earlier. Pay-DTT, though accounting for only 4% of the market, was growing in popularity and had 156,800 subscribers at the end of 2019, up from 64,000 five years earlier.
Beltelecom is the leading provider of pay-TV services in the country and offers both IPTV and pay-DTT in the shape of Zala TV. A1 Belarus also operates an IPTV service, while the cable market is dominated by Cosmos TV. Partly owned by Russia’s Akado, the latter’s offer currently includes internet access at up to 300Mbps and the Ultra 4K Extreme channel.
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