What are the prospects for pay-TV services across Central and Eastern Europe?
A new report by Digital TV Research paints something of a mixed picture. On the one hand, it highlights that the number of subscribers is forecast to fall to 73 million in 2028. This will be 8 million fewer in what was the peak year of 2018.
On the other, it says that the number of digital pay-TV subscribers will increase by 8 million over the same period, helped by the complete disappearance of analogue cable.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the current state of the region’s pay-TV industry varies from country to country. New research published by the agency Atmedia points to the fact that as of the second half of 2022 pay-TV take-up in the Czech Republic was still only around two-thirds of that in neighbouring Slovakia, namely 57% v 95%. Viewers in the Czech Republic are spoilt by the number of terrestrial TV channels they can watch free of charge, hence the country’s pay-TV penetration still being on the low side. However, it is likely to continue growing, at least for the next few years.
Meanwhile, Slovakia belongs to the group of CEE countries where pay-TV penetration is already very high. They include Romania, where cable remains king and IPTV, unlike in the rest of Europe as a whole, is a bit-part player.
Croatia is in some respects similar to the Czech Republic, with a still relatively low pay-TV penetration rate, at least by regional standards. IPTV is also the main driver, with just over half (52%) of pay-TV homes using the technology as of the end of 2022.
Interestingly, pay-TV makes a positive contribution to many countries’ economies. In Poland, for instance, it accounts for 0.25% of GDP, according to a report by Arthur D. Little. Significantly, this is only just behind the UK’s 0.26%.
Taking all this into account, pay-TV will almost certainly continue to play an important role in the region’s electronic communications sector for the foreseeable future.
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