Pay-TV penetration continues to grow across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) despite already being extremely high in many countries.
Perhaps not surprisingly, its greatest potential lies in markets where FTA terrestrial TV is still widely watched. In the Czech Republic, for instance, figures just published by Atmedia show that 56% of the population now access pay-TV services, or two percentage points more than in 2020. Furthermore, this is expected to rise to 59% next year, with 7% of viewers who currently watch only FTA terrestrial TV indicating they plan to switch to pay-TV in the next 12 months.
Meanwhile in Croatia, the regulator HAKOM has said that 62.5% of the country’s households subscribed to pay-TV services at the end of the first quarter. This was up from 59% in the same period last year, with the main drivers for growth being IPTV and pay-DTT and the number of homes receiving solely FTA terrestrial TV falling by 13.48%.
Elsewhere, according to data published by the Romanian regulator ANCOM, the number of pay-TV subscribers in the country grew by 1% to around 7.8 million in 2021 despite the penetration figure per 100 households being 104.8 (104.3) at year’s end. Cable remains the preferred choice of reception, accounting for 6.2 million (+3%) subscribers at the end of 2021, with satellite in decline and IPTV relatively insignificant.
In Poland, the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) is expected to shortly publish its annual report on the state of the country’s telecom market in 2021. In the absence of up-to-date national pay-TV figures, we can look at those of some individual providers. The DTH operator Cyfrowy Polsat, for instance, saw its contracted pay-TV subscriber total fall by 3.1% to 5.177 million in the year to March 31. Vectra, the country’s leading cable operator, continues to grow its pay-TV customer base, though chiefly through acquisitions.
Looking to the future, some forecasts point to a reduction in the pay-TV sector across the region. Making predictions with any degree of certainty is nevertheless difficult due to the war in Ukraine and challenging economic conditions currently being faced in many CEE countries.
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