Antenna Group has been an active player in the South-East European TV industry for over 30 years.
Although it made the headlines earlier this month by agreeing to buy Sony’s CEE business, its first foray into the market was as far back as 1989 when it launched the Greek national commercial station Antenna TV. This was followed a year later by the acquisition of Nova TV in Bulgaria in what proved to be a spectacularly successful deal. Its initial outlay of $3 million saw an eventual return of $970 million in 2008, when the station, then already the second most popular in the country, was sold to Modern Times Group (MTG).
Antenna Group also fared well in Serbia, where it bought Fox Televizija from News Corporation in 2010. The station was subsequently renamed Prva Televizija and Antenna Group went on to acquire other media interests in the country, as well as in neighbouring Montenegro. These were eventually sold in 2018 to Serbia’s Kopernikus Corporation for a combined fee of €180 million, with Kopernikus at around the same time selling Kopernikus Technology, Serbia’s second largest cable operator, to Telekom Srbija.
Elsewhere in CEE, Antenna Group entered into a joint venture with the Slovenian incumbent in February 2013 to jointly operate a channel named Planet TV, launched only three months earlier. It was eventually bought out by Telekom Slovenija in 2019 and then sold to Hungary’s TV2 Media the following year.
Antenna Group also acquired Kiss TV and a number of radio stations in Romania from ProSiebenSat.1 in 2014 in one of several deals that saw the German group exit the region.
The Sony transaction is nevertheless the largest Antenna Group has undertaken in CEE to date. It includes the regional AXN, Sony and Viasat pay-TV channels and on demand services and will give the company a presence in several new markets including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and a total audience reach of over 100 million.
Antenna has a history of acquiring broadcast interests and making impressive returns when selling them a few years later. It will be interesting to see how it now goes about developing Sony’s CEE business.
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