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Yesterday β€” September 17th 2019Broadband TV News: Central & East Europe

Belarus eyes foreign TV ad ban

By Chris Dziadul

Belarus is planning amendments to its law on advertising that would see a ban imposed on commercials carried by foreign TV channels.

Quoting the parliamentarian Oleg Levshunov, TV News reports that the reason for the proposed ban is that foreign advertisers, placing commercials on foreign channels that are broadcast on cable networks in Belarus, do not bear the cost of distributing such commercials in the country.

TV advertising of imported goods in Belarus is distributed and the income from this received exclusively by foreign and not domestic TV companies.

This makes Belarusian goods less competitive than their foreign counterparts.

Local advertisers are at a disadvantage to their counterparts in Russia, where there is a ban on advertising on cable channels.

Furthermore, advertising on foreign TV channels does not always comply with legislation in Belarus.

Pro Plus, Pink top SE Europe TV chart

By Chris Dziadul

CME’s Slovenian subsidiary Pro Plus and Serbia’s Pink International are the leading private broadcasters in revenue terms in South East Europe.

According to data produced by Mediadaily.biz and published by Capital, the former, which consists of the stations Pop TV and Kanal, had revenues of €68,808,202 in 2018, up from €61,868,302 a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the latter’s revenues amounted to €66,615,933, up from €52,305,345 a year earlier. The Croatian broadcasters Nova TV and RTL Hrvatska were in third and fourth place, with revenues of €56,469,921 (€52,468,452) and €46,211,785 (€40,742,537) respectively.

There was only one new station in the top 20 – BN TV from Bosnia & Herzegovina – and no broadcasters from Montenegro featured in the list.

The biggest growth in revenues was achieved by Slovenia’s Antenna TV (Planet TV) and ASPN (Sport TV) at 33.76% and 29.28% respectively, followed by Pink International (27.16%) and RTV BN (24.43%) from Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Significantly, Pro Plus was also the most profitable broadcaster, registering €13,270,274 in 2018, up from €4,063,896 a year earlier. It was followed by Pink International with €10,191,931 (€7,370,564) and Croatia ‘s Nova TV (€7,006,991, up from €3,549,040 a year earlier).

Serbia was the most lucrative market in 2018, with revenues of €166,33,684, followed by Croatia with €112,447,198.

TV ad market contracts in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s TV ad market will continue to lose out to the internet in the long term despite making a recovery in the second half of this year.

Data produced by the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (AKAR) and published by Kommersant shows that TV ad spend in the first half of this year fell by 9% to R81-82 billion (€1.15-1.16 billion), while internet spend rose by 20% to R109-110 billion.

Total ad spend during the period increased by 3% to R226-228 billion thanks solely to the internet.

Meanwhile, TV’s share of the ad market fell from 41.5% in the first half of 2018 to 36% in H1 this year.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Central & East Europe

New milestone for Polish SVOD service

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish SVOD service CDA Premium reached a record 207,000 paid subscribers at the end of August.

Launched at the beginning of 2016, it offers customers close to 6,500 movies, while the CDA app is available on an increasing range of mobile devices as well as smart TVs.

CDA says that in the last half year the number of partner outlets where customers can buy access to CDA Premium for one or three months has grown considerably.

Of particular note is its cooperation with Euronet Polska.

New iOS app from Digi TV

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech TV operator Digi TV has launched a new and improved app for viewers who watch Digi2Go on iOS.

It allows them to use AirPlay to share the programme they’re watching on Apple TV, manually switching picture quality and much more.

Commenting on the development, Iveta Slapalova, director of customer service at Digi TV, said: “We’ve been working on upgrading the iOS app for a long time. In particular, we tried to speed up the application, improve its stability and improve user comfort.

“Our customers will especially appreciate the new feature where they can share the program on their Apple TV, as well as the ability to manually select the picture resolution or a clear list of current broadcasts directly in the player. I believe our developers have done a very good job and I believe our customers will welcome the change”.

Digi suffers heavy Hungarian 5G blow

By Chris Dziadul

Digi has failed to make the shortlist of companies bidding to obtain 5G licences in Hungary.

In statement, the Hungarian regulator NMHH says that the auction for the 700, 2100, 2600 and 3600 MHz bands was launched in August 8. Following the completion of a formal investigation, it shortlisted three of the four mobile operator bidders – Magyar Telekom, Telenor and Vodafone Hungary – but ruled out the fourth as it did not meet the eligibility criteria and was not registered by the regulator.

Although not named, the fourth bidder was Romanian-owned Digi, already one of the top providers of broadband and pay-TV services in Hungary.

Ziarul Financiar reports that Digi has criticised the decision and will challenge it “by all means at its disposal, in accordance with Hungarian and European law”.

Sergie Bulgac, Digi’s CEO, said that it was the latest in a series of adverse and controversial decisions the NMHH has adopted against companies of the Digi Group.

NMHH will sell the four 5G frequency bands in Hungary for 15 years, renewable once for five years. The results are expected in late autumn.

IP based technologies to increase in CIS and Baltics

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

IP based technologies are expected to see their subscriber shares gradually increase, according to Dataxis.

In the upcoming years in the CIS and Baltics region, the share of IP based technologies will grow from 23% in 2018 to 35% in 2023.

This would occur at the cost of cable, with an estimated market share of 33% in 2023 vs. 43% in 2018.

Russian OTT market takes off

By Chris Dziadul

Legal OTT services in Russia had combined revenues of R10.62 billion (€147.1 million) in the first half of this year.

According to Telecom Daily, this was already 64% of the R16.495 billion posted for the whole of 2018.

Furthermore, the market is set to continue growing at an annual rate of at least 30-35% and exceed R21.4 billion by the end of this year.

Paid OTT services continue to gain at the expense of those that use the advertising business model. In H1 the former accounted for almost 70% of revenues, while AVOD service claimed 31.2$, compared to 36.9% at the end of 2018.

Ivi was the market leader in revenue terms in the first half with a share of 26.4%, with second and third placed Okko and YouTube claiming 14.2% and 12.3% respectively.

Okko enjoyed the highest revenue growth in H1 (76%), while the smallest was posted by Tvigle (9%).

Discovery sells Polish TV station

By Chris Dziadul

TVN Discovery Polska has sold the broadcaster NTL Radomsko to Michal Winnicki Entertainment (MWE) for an undisclosed fee.

According to Presserwis, 95% has been acquired directly by MWE, with the remaining 5% being sold to MEW Teleport, a subsidiary of MWE.

Aside from a TV station of the same name, NTL Radmosko operates a local digital TV multiplex (MUX L3) covering the Lodz and Silesian voivodships.

Crime+Investigation launches on Poland’s Play Now

By Julian Clover

A+E Networks UK has expanded the distribution of Crime+Investigation. The channel has launched on the Play Now service from Play, the largest mobile network operator in Poland, with some 4 million subscribers.

The launch schedule includes a new season of documentary series Once Upon A Crime, in which seven best-selling Polish crime writers review true crime cases. Journalist Michal Fajbusiewicz returns to Crime+Investigation with a new series of interviews with popular Polish crime writers as well as a new series of hit series Killer Women, featuring high profile crime cases that shocked Poland.

“Crime+Investigation has a fiercely loyal and passionate fan base in Poland,” said Izabella Wiley, General Manager, A+E Networks UK, Poland and CEE. “We are thrilled to partner with Play to launch Crime+Investigation on their PLAY NOW platform. With Play we are excited to bring more core viewers and new audiences to Crime+Investigation and some of the greatest investigations of our time”.

August 2019 was a record month for Crime+Investigation in Poland delivering its best-ever ratings in the commercial 16-49 demographic since channel measurement was launched in 2012; the channel grew by 110% year-on-year reaching over 1.3 million people 16-49 and 3.1 million 4+.

Karina Rompa, Content Manager, Play said: “We’re delighted to have extended our relationship with A+E Networks and to launch Crime+Investigation to our channel line-up. Access to even more great content, including crime shows, is another step in our firm ambition to grow our TV offering.”

Crime+Investigation on Play joins the previously available HISTORY2 and Lifetime in the Extra tier and HISTORY is available in the Basic package.

Ukraine tops CEE pay-TV growth

By Chris Dziadul

Pay-TV subscription revenues will almost double in Ukraine from 2019-2023, according to the findings of a new Futuresource Pay-TV Insights report.

Looking at eight markets in the CEE region – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine – it says that pay-TV expansion is being driven primarily by developing markets such as Ukraine. In its case this will be down to subscriber growth, whereas in more saturated markets like Estonia and Hungary revenue growth will come through increased uptake of premium services.

According to Carl Hibbert, associate director of media and entertainment content at Futuresource Consulting, “In Bulgaria, IPTV subscriptions account for a quarter of the market, with 65% of these IPTV subscribers opting for bundled services.

“IPTV is also attracting consumers who demand higher quality services with superior user experiences and HD channels. Availability of HD channels is also set to increase in the region as a result of IPTV uptake and satellite upgrades, and in Ukraine, TV operators are offering HD channels only to pay-TV subscribers.”

The report notes that investments in fibre and 4K UHD connected set-top boxes, operators are also increasing prices to generate ROI, with ARPU rising from €8.12 in 2018 to €8.46 by 2023. This remains substantially lower than Western Europe, which will see ARPUs of €25.26 in 2023.

New milestones for Magyar Telekom

By Chris Dziadul

Magyar Telekom’s Magenta 1 discount package is now being used by 500,000 customers.

Launched four years ago, it has most recently been extended to include such new features as the Telecom Bill, showing both home and mobile services in the same document; the Net Guarantee; and free HBO Go option until the end of the year.

Magyar Telekom is now also offering gigabit speeds to more than 1.7 million homes and businesses, or one third of the total number in Hungary.

From this month, this is via most parts of its cable network in addition to optical connections.

IPTV drives Moldovan pay-TV growth

By Chris Dziadul

Pay-TV revenues in Moldova amounted to MDL82.6 million (€4.2 million) in H1, according to the regulator ANRCETI.

This was MDL3.8 million, or 5%, more than in the corresponding period last year. Meanwhile, the total number of pay-TV subscribers increased by 3.1% in the first half of this year to 339,900.

IPTV was the main driver for the increase in revenues, increasing by 13.6% in H1, compared top a year earlier, to MDL43 million.

On the other hand, cable revenues fell by 3,2% to MDL39.5 million and MMDS by 29.1% to MDL52,400.

At the same time, ARPU for pay-TV services increased by 2.1% to MDL41.3.

The number of IPTV subscribers rose by 7.6% to 171,200, while the cable subscriber total fell by 1% to 168,400 and MMDS by 38.7% to 280.

Pay-TV penetration per 100 households increased by 1.7 percentage points to 36.8%.

All told, there were 81 active pay-TV providers in Moldova at the end of June, with 50.4% of subscribers opting for IPTV, 49.5% cable and 0.1% MMDS.

Two-thirds (66.6%) of subscribers accessed digital TV services. In terms of revenues, Moldtelecom was the market leader with a 35% share.

It was followed by Sun Communications (16.4%) and TV Box (14.8%), the other providers claiming a combined 33.8%.

Telekom secures Slovak channel licence

By Chris Dziadul

Slovak Telekom has obtained a satellite channel licence from the country’s Broadcasting and Retransmission Council (RVR).

According to Zive, the channel, provisionally named Comedy House, will be coproduced by Slovak Telekom and the Czech Republic’s Digi TV and make its debut by the end of the year.

It is likely to be distributed by Magio TV, Magio Sat and probably Digi TV in Slovakia and Digi TV and T-Mobile in the Czech Republic.

Slovak Telekom’s channel portfolio already includes Digi Sport, Tuki and Folklorika.

Telekom Romania makes price promise

By Chris Dziadul

Telekom Romania has said it will not raise prices for a third time this year.

Speaking to Ziarul Financiar, Andreas Elsner, chief commercial officer, residential segment, Telekom Romania, added that the change – equivalent to €1 a month for fixed services – announced in August and due to come into effect next month, would be the last one.

He added that it was necessary as the operator’s fixed costs were higher than the revenues collected from customers and the company’s goal is to be profitable. Telekom Romania’s first price in this year, equivalent to around RON2 (€0.42) a month, was across the board for both residential and business customers.

In a separate development, Business Review reports that Telekom Romania has launched Smart WiFi, a service that offers fixed internet access through a mobile connection.

Croatia starts DVB-T2 transition

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian national transmission company OiV has announced the start of the transition to the DVB-T2 standard in the country.

In a statement, it says it began on Friday, September 6 with HDTV broadcasting from the Sljeme transmitter on the new M2 multiplex.

It adds that simulcasting with DVB-T will continue until the latter is switched off in the middle of next year.

Thanks to DVB-T2, viewers will be offered a stronger signal that covers more of the population. Furthermore, a new multiple (M1) will bring together the main channels currently available in the country, namely HRT1, HRT2, RTL and Nova TV.

By mid-November 97% of Croatia’s population should be able to receive HD signals from the M2 multiplex.

Moreover, over 99% of the population will be reached by the M1 multiplex following the transition in mid-2020.

Orange gives Slovak TV stat

By Chris Dziadul

Orange Slovakia has revealed the number of subscribers to its satellite TV service, which made its debut just over a year ago.

Quoting Martin Hromkovic, the director of Orange’s residential marketing department, Zive reports that the figure now stands at 10,000.

It adds that Orange has also increased the monthly access to Orange sport via SMS from €6 to €12.

This is in order to make customers buy its entire TV service, rather than just have access via SMS.

Orange Slovakia’s TV offer has been recently enhanced by the addition of rights to the Premier League.

Polish VOD clutter on the rise

By Chris Dziadul

The clutter found in on demand services in Poland is now approaching the levels seen on TV channels.

According to the VideoTrack 1V study produced by Wavemaker, the on demand services Player (TVN), Ipla (Polsat) and VOD TVP allocated up to 15% of their airtime to commercials in July, compared to 20% for Polsat and TVN, 17% for TVP1 and 15% for TVP2.

Although the dissatisfaction with commercials on VOD services is little changed, a growing number of viewers are opting for paid-for VOD services that carry on commercials.

All told, irritation with ads ranks least in cinema screenings (42%), with the figure rising for YouTube (44%), VOD services (47%) and TV (53%).

Significantly, the viewing of ads on VOD services remains high, with VOD TVP and YouTube sharing joint top spot with 96%.

Moldovan broadband market speeds up

By Chris Dziadul

The number of subscribers using fixed broadband in Moldova increased by 3.3% to over 643,600 in the first half of this year.

According to data published by the regulator ANRCETI, nearly two-thirds (65.5%) opted for fibre (FTTx) connection, with xDSL (26.7%), coaxial cable – DOCSIS (7.5%) and other technologies (0.3%) accounting for the remainder.

The biggest growth in take up was among customer choosing download speeds of over 100 Mbps, up by 26.8% to 79,400. Meanwhile, the number opting for download speeds of 30 -100 Mbps rose by 4.5% to 354,200.

The total number fibre customers stood at 421,500 and xDSL 171,700, and the penetration rate of fixed internet services per 100 inhabitants rose by 1.2 percentage points to 24%.

Revenues from fixed broadband services obtained by 94 active providers in the country amounted to MDL673.7 million (€33.8 million) or 5.8% more than in the same period in 2018.

Moldtelecom was the leading provider with a 63.1% share of the market, followed by Starnet (21.4%), Orange Moldova (5.1%) and others (10.4%).

North Macedonian TV station closes

By Chris Dziadul

The North Macedonian national station 1TV has ceased broadcasting.

Balkan Insight reports that as of last Friday (September 6) its main entrance was padlocked and frequency blank, though its web page was still active. Broadband TV News notes that 1TV’s site was still up as of Tuesday, September 10.

1TV was launched in March 2018, soon after a new government led by the Social Democrats (SDSM) took power.

It quickly became one of the most popular TV stations in the country.

However, it experienced financial difficulties and its informal owner Bojan Jovanovski was arrested in July as the main suspect in a profile extortion affair.