Published: 21.37 Europe/London, June 21, 2011

DIGITAL TV CEE – BUDAPEST. Ukraine and Russia are now the markets with the greatest potential for DTH growth in Central and Eastern Europe.

Speaking in a panel discussion entitled Satellite: the driver for digital growth in CEE, Jean-Philippe Gillet, regional VP, Europe and Middle East, Intelsat, said that he saw two main opportunities for the region’s DTH sector.

The first is in the number of HD channels, with customers such as Romania’s RCS&RDS having been expected to aggressively introduce such services just prior to the economic crisis and the economy in Romania now starting to pick up again.

The second is the appearance of new players, even in markets where there are already several platforms operating.

Gillet identified Ukraine and Russia, and speaking to Broadband TV News he added that the type of business model that would work best in Ukraine would be one of a platform offering an extremely attractive basic package, building up a subscriber base with a low ARPU.

Gillet also said that although it was unlikely Russia would see any more DTH platforms at this stage – it currently works with Orion Express, the second largest in terms of subscriber numbers after Tricolor TV – there was still as lot of potential in the market.

Moreover, it will be interesting to see what happens when DTT becomes available in Russia and the impact this has on the lowest priced TV packages.

Commenting on other markets, Gillet said that the two things that have to happen are “consolidation and subscribers to pay more.”

In the case of Romania, the fact that RCS&RDS is now putting its own content together could prove a game changer.