Differentiation on linear content is difficult here

For the opening presentation at this year's IPTV Forum Eastern Europe, which opened in Prague today, delegates heard from Michal Táborský, Director for Product Development, Telefónica O2.

Mr. Táborský opened by saying that in the three years since the telco started offering IPTV in the Czech Republic under the name 'O2 TV', the service has progressed well and is no longer in its infancy, adding that there are currently only two pay-TV services which are growing in the country: O2 TV and a low-cost DTH service called Digi TV. "What you can see is that the traditional [pay-TV] players - mid- and high-end cable and satellite providers - are currently stagnating," he said.

Regarding content consumption, he stated that there is a lower penetration of pay-TV in the Czech Republic compared to neighbouring countries, with the result that consumers are less willing to pay for content, even for premium content such as live sports events: "Differentiation on linear content is difficult here," he affirmed.

In the past three years, Telefonica O2 Czech Republic has signed some premium content deals, such as with HBO, and formed a self-install option for customers, the latter of which has been a big boost for keeping costs down, according to Mr. Taborsky. The company has also benefited from video-on-demand deals which the parent company Telefónica has signed with US content providers.

Mr. Táborský was keen to point out that regarding business models, "It's not just about technology but trends in the market. We relaunched our portfolio to offer base products such as naked DSL, IPTV and telephony, then on top of that we offer free incentives such as a free O2 TV Family Viewing pack."

Regarding other trends, he stated that he believes - within the Czech market certainly - high-definition content will be a big theme for the future, with challenges expected being the deployment of fibre networks to deliver sufficient bandwidth, and managing Quality of Service issues; as well as multimedia Customer Premises Equipment, with challenges anticipated including management of the device and services ecosystem, including compatibility issues, applications, content sharing and a unified User Interface.

Other trends for the future will include flexibility in content consumption, with challenges anticipated including the delivery of linear television in on-demand fashion, and the adaptation of content for different devices; and an increased content offering, with challenges expected including the proliferation of User Generated Content and Internet TV, smart content navigation and recommendation, and new business models.