Although the Polish cable market is as mature as any in Western Europe, from an operator’s perspective there are still too many companies providing services.
Speaking in a panel discussion on Central and Eastern Europe, Tomasz Zuranski, the CEO of Vectra, added that his company had in the last few years undertaken no fewer than 90 transactions to reach its current subscriber total of 900,000 but the market was still fragmented.
Zuranski also said there was a lot of overlapping infrastructure in Poland compared to Western Europe. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of scale and predicted that there will be more dynamic consolidation in Poland in the next few years despite the difficulties that this would entail, such as integrating agreements and experiencing churn.
Commenting on Netflix, Zuranski said that it would be a complementary service in Poland and cooperation with it possible if revenues were shared. Vectra already has a presence in the on demand market through a successful TVOD service.
Meanwhile, Severina Pascu, MD, UPC Romania/Hungary, said that although the two markets she represents had lower internet penetration than others in the region, this was not only a difference but also an opportunity.
She noted that the way content is used in Romania and Hungary is the same but much smaller. There is also a lot of potential on the connectivity and content side, with in the former case consumers having a “thirst for speed”.
Pascu pointed out that while there are extremely competitive internet products at up to 1Gb available, low price strategies mean you will lose in the long run.
Harold Rösch, CEO Blizoo Media and Broadband, said that Bulgaria, the market the company operates in, has an APRU of only around $10. With monthly incomes in the country averaging $400 a month, it has to make its products affordable.
When questioned about the threat posed by torrents, Rösch said that a bigger issue in Bulgaria is the illegal distribution of TV channels.
Levente Malnay, CEO, AMC Networks International – CE, pointed out that seven of the top 10 TV viewing markets in Europe are in CEE. For $12 a month, viewers could expect to receive up to 60 channels, some in HD. Furthermore, ARPUs were high in some markets, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, while admittedly less so in others such as Romania and Bulgaria.
Malnay also emphasised the importance of innovation and benefits of consolidation providing it left 3-4 players in the marketplace.