Total surprise

The unexpected sale of the DTH platform Total TVís operations in Croatia is significant on at least three levels.

Firstly, it changes the dynamics of the countryís pay-TV marketplace, greatly strengthening position of the cable operator Its owner BEWAG Group, which is an Austrian utilities company, has through the acquisition created an operation much more capable of taking on the incumbent telco T-HT.

Already the owner of the most successful IPTV platform in Central and Eastern Europe Ė as of the end of Q3, MAXtv had 271,000 subscribers Ė the latter is currently preparing for the launch of its own DTH service. Distributed by Eutelsat Sesat 1 at 16 degrees East, where it has already been undertaking trials, this will go head-to-head with BEWAGíS Total TV and RCS/RDS-owned Digi TV, which also operates in the country.

Secondly, the sale of Total TVís operations in Croatia could signal the start of a withdrawal from, or scaling back of, Mid Europa Partnersí (MEPís) involvement in the regionís TV industry. While the investment fundís plans for Total TV elsewhere are unknown Ė the platform is present in several countries that once made up the former Yugoslavia Ė it is certainly interested in selling its stake in Aster, Polandís fourth largest cable operator.

Thirdly, the sale goes against a trend that has recently become noticeable in the regionís DTH marketplace. With consolidation yet to get under way in earnest and indeed new platforms continuing to appear on an almost regular basis, we have been seeing the emergence of more pan-regional players.

MEPís Total TV and it can also be argued Deutsche Telekomís T satellite platforms have joined the ranks Liberty Globalís UPC Direct/Focus Sat, RCS/RDSís Digi TV and MTGís Viasat operations in the Baltic Republics.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Total TV deal in Croatia was how unexpected it was. More surprises may soon follow.