Spills and thrills

By Chris Dziadul
October 9, 2009 06.22 UK

Even in the dynamic world of satellite broadcasting, recent events in the CEE region have been little short of dramatic.

As I write this column, the news has broken that Serbia Broadband (SBB), whose interests include the Total TV DTH platform, has just acquired the Bulgarian operation ITV Partner.

This should perhaps come as no surprise, given that the two companies have already been co-operating for some time. It will nevertheless confirm Total TV as one of the leading satellite operations in the south east European region and bring additional pressure to bear on the Romanian-owned Digi TV, which has until now been the undisputed market leader.

Meanwhile in Poland, we have just seen the launch of Telekomunikacja Polska’s (TP’s) DTH platform. Though by no means a new player in the TV marketplace, the France Telecom-backed incumbent telco already operates an IPTV service and has been using Cyfra+’s infrastructure to provide a satellite offer. However, it has now become a DTH platform operator in its own right, launching a service that complements its IPTV offer, and looks set to become an increasingly important player in the Polish pay-TV marketplace.

We now also hear that in neighbouring Slovakia, TP’s counterpart Slovak Telecom is trialling a satellite service that it hopes to launch in January next year. And as we reported only last week, there are also plans to launch at least one more DTH platform in Hungary.

Major changes are clearly afoot in CEE’s DTH marketplace, which already encompasses at least 40 platforms. On the one hand, perhaps defying logic, the number of platforms continues to grow, with the latest entrants being services operated by telcos and – in the case of Poland – also the public broadcaster.

On the other, we are also seeing consolidation and the emergence of more leading players. The latter now also include SBB and Russia’s Gazprom Media, following the recent deal to buy the operator of Tricolor TV.

More interesting developments, some of which will really surprise the market, are almost certainly coming our way.