Vodafone has in the space of a year become a major player in Central and Eastern Europe’s TV industry.
The catalyst for this transformation was the acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania in a €18.4 billion deal that also included Unity Media in Germany. Once the transaction was finalised in August 2019, Vodafone embarked on the major task of integrating the UPC operations in the three CEE markets into its own business. Key changes quickly took place in Romania, where a new executive team was put in place at Vodafone and the first converged offers introduced for both Vodafone and UPC customers. Meanwhile, in Hungary Vodafone said it would discontinue the UPC brand from April this year.
Progress has continued despite the difficult conditions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in the last six months. Vodafone TV, for instance, was launched in the Czech Republic and Hungary early this year and more recently – this week, in the latter’s case – both have added Netflix to their offers. Vodafone TV, along with the converged offer Vodafone One, has also this week been launched in Romania, while in Hungary Vodafone has announced it will move its headquarters to new futuristic offices in the Budapest One business park in October 2022.
Vodafone nevertheless still has some way to go before it becomes a market leader in all three countries’ TV industries. In Hungary, for instance, it trails in third place behind Magyar Telekom and Digi in the provision of pay-TV services, with a share of 18.8% as of this June. In Romania and the Czech Republic, RCS&RDS (Digi) and Skylink respectively remain in pole position in highly competitive pay-TV markets.
The group is nevertheless well placed to grow its business, focused on converged offerings that include a strong video element.