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Yesterday β€” November 18th 2018Broadband TV News: Cable

Dutch Ziggo to launch Android TV app

By Robert Briel

Liberty Global is working to launch its Ziggo Go app for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV in the Dutch market.

At the moment Ziggo is beta testing the app among its subscribers that are members of the select Ziggo Community users group.

There is no timetable yet for the launch of the Android TV version of the app. At the mooment some 151 linear channels are available on Ziggo Go, including premium channels from Film1, Ziggo Sports and Fix Sports.

With Ziggo Go for Android, the channels can be viewed on TV sets from Sony, Philips (TP Vision) and Sharp.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Cable

UPC Polska tops 3m RGUs

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s leading cable operator UPC Polska gained 15,700 RGUs in the third quarter, ending September with a total of 3,010,200.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,430,900 customers used its services, and of these, 1,1153,500 opted for internet, 1,033,100 digital TV and 643,900 telephony.

Its average internet speed in Q3 was 180Mbps, while the number of customers subscribing to 500Mbps increased 20-fold in the year to September 30.

UPC Polska also had over 545,000 customers for Connect Box, or 245,000 more than a year earlier, and 610,000 for Horizon, 190,000 more than in Q3 2017.

A total of 3,430,800 homes could receive its services, with 22,400 being added to the total in Q3.

Tele Columbus opposes Vodafone/Unitymedia merger

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Tele Columbus, the third-largest German cable operator, rejects the planned acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone.

“In the event of a merger between Vodafone and Unitymedia, the German cable market would in future be dominated by a mega-player. This would have massive negative effects on competition and media diversity,” Timm Degenhardt, CEO of Tele Columbus, said in a statement.

“In the medium term, higher prices would also be expected for the housing industry and tenants. In addition, infrastructure competition would be curbed, which would lead in particular to reduced investment in the important fibre-optic deployment and broadband provision, especially for tenants, and would weaken Germany as a business location in the long term. That is why we are clearly against this merger.”

The parties have recently notified the European Commission of the planned merger. The German Federal Cartel Office has now requested the referral of the case to the German authority, arguing that it could lead to considerable changes in the market conditions in the German cable TV and telecommunications industry.

Unitymedia continues DOCSIS 3.1 rollout / CEO interview

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator Unitymedia aims to provide over 1.3 million households with its DOCSIS 3.1-based 1Gbps high-speed internet access by the end of 2018, CEO Winni Rapp told Broadband TV News.

This corresponds to more than 10% of the households served by Unitymedia. Most recently, Frankfurt was added as the second Gigabit city after Bochum. Cologne and Düsseldorf will follow in December 2018, according to Rapp. Rapp did not yet want to say how the Gigabit expansion will continue in 2019.

A decision on the planned acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone is expected in mid-2019. The precondition is approval by the competition authorities. The Federal German Cartel Office announced today that it will request the transfer of the case from the European Commission to the German authority. “We are in a good, constructive dialogue with the authorities and are confident that the outcome of the case will be positive,” said Rapp.

The long-standing legal dispute with German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF over the controversial issue of carriage fees also ended with a positive result. Following the agreement with ARD on a new, long-term distribution contract, Unitymedia also reached an agreement with ZDF in September 2018.

As part of the settlement of the legal dispute, ZDF will pay Unitymedia €11.7 million euros in carriage fees retrospectively, confirmed Rapp. ARD pays €31.2 million. The figures are unveiled in the quarterly reports of parent company Liberty Global.

With a view to further developments in Q3 2018, Rapp said that Unitymedia had now converted all its internet customers to the new basic speed of 30Mbps which took place “faster than expected”. The free upgrade had received a very positive response from customers and increased customer satisfaction, said Rapp.

Over 80% of new customers now sign up for a data rate of 150Mbps or more. In September 2018, as many as one-third opted for the current maximum speed of 400Mbps which Unitymedia offers on its entire network outside the Gigabit cities.

The high speeds are also being used. Unitymedia customers consume an average of 179GB per month, twice as much as the average internet customer in Germany (90GB), said Rapp. “We are proud of that.”

Meanwhile network expansion continues. Since the start of the GigaBuild initiative in 2015, Unitymedia has connected more than half a million new households to its cable network. In Q3 2018 alone, 34,000 households were added. Rapp stressed that the footprint would be continuously extended.

16,000 Unitymedia customers opted for multimedia box Horizon in Q3 2018. In total, 770,000 of the more than 6 million Unitymedia customers now use the device. This corresponds to 12% of all TV customers.

In Switzerland, Liberty Global subsidiary UPC introduced the new Ultra HD/4K-capable receiver UPC TV Box on October 4, 2018. Rapp did not want to specify whether or when the Horizon successor will be deployed in Germany.

See our report on the Q3 2018 results of Unitymedia’s parent company Liberty Global.

German Cartel Office requests referral of Vodafone/Unitymedia merger case

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The Federal German Cartel Office intends to examine the takeover of German cable network operator Unitymedia by telecommunications group Vodafone itself and has requested the European Commission to refer the case to the German authority.

The request relates to the area of the merger which affects markets in Germany. The parties notified the European Commission in mid-October 2018 that Vodafone Group would like to acquire large parts of Liberty Global’s cable business in Europe. In Germany the intended acquisition involves the takeover of Unitymedia.

“In our view, this is a very suitable case for partial referral. Germany is particularly affected by the effects of the merger,” said Andreas Mundt, President of the Cartel Office. “The acquisition of Unitymedia could lead to considerable changes in the market conditions in the German cable TV and telecommunications industry.”

According to the European merger regulation, a case for which the European Commission is initially responsible due to formal criteria such as the turnover of the companies concerned, can under certain circumstances be completely or partially referred to one or several EU member states. In the case of a referral, the competition authority of the respective member state conducts the merger control examination under the national competition law of that country.

UK shines for Liberty Global

By Chris Dziadul

The UK was the star performer for Liberty Global in the third quarter, generating over 100,000 net subscriber additions, while the Belgian and Swiss markets remained challenging.

In its latest set of results, the company also notes that the previously announced deal to sell its German and certain CEE operations to Vodafone remains on track and is still expected to close in mid-2019.

Looking at its continuing operations, Liberty Global says it gained 28,100 net RGUs in Q3, or only half the 57,400 in the same period last year. While the UK/Ireland performed well (+105,300), both Belgium (-52,900) and Switzerland (-41,500) saw losses. The continued operations in CEE meanwhile gained 17,200 RGUs, compared to a loss of 4,900 in Q3 2017.

Liberty’s next generation platforms added 70,000 subscribers in Q3 and had 6.7 million customers at the end of September, or 78% of its total cable video base, excluding DTH. WiFi Connect box deployments increased by 552,000, ending Q3 with an installed base of nearly 5.6 million, or 61% of broadband subscribers, while mobile subscribers increased by 18,000.

In revenue terms, the total in continuing operations in Q3 amounted to $2,958.1 million, or 1.3% more than a year.

UK/Ireland accounted for $1,667.7 million (+3.6%), while Switzerland saw the biggest year-on-year fall, by 8.1% to $323.3 million.

Net earnings attributable to Liberty’s shareholders in Q3 amounted to $974.1 million, compared to a loss of $804.5 million in the same period last year.

See our exclusive interview in which Unitymedia CEO Winni Rapp comments on the developments in Germany and the merger with Vodafone.

IHS Markit: Cable industry rebounds in Europe

By Chris Dziadul

The number of cable homes in Europe reached 69.2 million in 2017, or 36.3% of all TV households, in 2017. This, according to the European Broadband Cable Yearbook from IHS Markit and Cable Europe, was the highest number since 2009, when the figure stood at 70 million.

Key findings of the new 2018 edition of the Yearbook, which is the only industry report supported by Cable Europe, include the following:

Total revenue generating units (RGUs) rose 2 % year on year to 127.5 million, largely driven by an increase in internet subscriptions
At the end of 2017, cable customers in Europe subscribed to an average of 1.8 services.

TV services accounted for 46% of cable TV revenue in 2017, followed by internet with 35% and telephony with 19%.

Germany continued to be the largest cable TV market in Europe, with 18.7 million subscribers, which was more than three times the number of unique subscribers in the next biggest markets of Romania, the UK and Poland

Annual total cable revenue continued the steady growth path set in 2010, reaching €25.9 billion last year, up 2% compared to 2016. In terms of revenue growth, internet was the best-performing cable category, with revenue rising 4% to €9 billion in 2017.

Commenting on the findings of the Yearbook, Maria Rua Aguete, executive director of media, service providers and platforms for IHS Markit, said: “Broadband internet is a key factor in European cable TV revenue growth.

“Triple-play and quad-play strategies are also being implemented. They strengthen operators’ status as a multi-platform point to anytime, anywhere content.”

Telephony revenue contracted for the second consecutive year, declining 0.7% to €5 billion. Revenues for VOD services increased in 2017, returning to growth following the category’s minor downturn between 2012 and 2014. Average monthly revenue per subscriber (ARPU) last year was €16.79 for TV, €19.59 for internet and €14.35 for telephony.

The total number of cable TV service subscribers in Europe in 2017 remained flat at 58.9 million.

Martyn Hannant, research and analysis manager, IHS Markit, added: “The European cable industry continues to show resilience.
“The industry has made significant progress in the switchover from analogue to digital cable signals”.

The rate of digitisation of European cable TV homes grew in 2017. As the digital switchover gathered momentum, the number of digital subscribers grew 13% compared to 2016. A significant portion of this growth came from Germany’s Unitymedia, which switched off its analogue TV signals in July 2017.

Mergers and acquisitions were once again a key characteristic of the European cable industry last year, including the sale of UPC Austria to T-Mobile Austria, Telenet’s purchase of Altice’s SFR Belux and Euskaltel’s acquisition of Telecable. However, these deals were somewhat eclipsed by the €18.4 billion Liberty Global agreement to sell key European assets to Vodafone in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Cable operators also made further enhancements to their services last year. For instance, German companies launched advanced TV services, including the rollout of the Vodafone GigaTV service and the Tele Colombus introduction of AdvanceTV. Both services crucially incorporated 4K capabilities.

The use of Android TV for interactive TV services also became increasingly popular in Europe last year, as DNA in Finland and YouSee in Denmark both launched Android TV products.

Unitymedia launches Wi-Fi extender

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator Unitymedia is now offering its customers the option of extending their local Wi-Fi network to other rooms.

This requires the so-called Connect Booster, which transports the data via the power line, as Chief Commercial Officer Christian Hindennach and Project Manager Christian Rupp explained in a press conference.

The booster base station is connected to the Connect cable router while the Wi-Fi booster is plugged into a socket in the room in which the wireless network is needed, for example in the bedroom, office, kitchen or children’s room.

The booster, which can transmit up to 1Gbps, is intended for all cases in which the Wi-Fi signal of the cable router is not sufficient, for example in large apartments, houses or across different floors. The device automatically configures itself with the customer’s broadband internet access.

The basic package costs €2.99 per month surcharge on the individual internet tariff and includes the base station and a booster. Further boosters are available at the monthly price of €1.99. The equipment can be tested for 30 days and returned if not satisfied.

After Austria and Switzerland, Germany is the third country in which Unitymedia’s parent company Liberty Global is introducing the Connect Booster, as Rupp told Broadband TV News. In Germany, the automatic configuration (“plug & surf”) is being used for the first time.

Around 1.8 million Unitymedia customers currently use the Connect box as a cable router. This corresponds to almost half of the company’s broadband customers.

EXCLUSIVE: Sky D focuses on HD and removes SD channels

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Sky Deutschland is embarking on a major HD offensive and will be the first TV broadcaster in Germany to commence switching off SD channels in the DTH satellite market.

While on German cable, analogue switch-off is still running and the discussion about SD switch-off on satellite has only just begun, the step would confirm Sky Deutschland’s role as a technological first-mover. The pay-TV operator benefits from the fact that all current Sky receivers and flat-screen TV sets are HD-capable.

As a first step, Sky intends to activate all Sky subscribers for HD reception by November 15, 2018 at no extra charge, as Broadband TV News has learned from distribution partners affected by the move. This clears the way for the closure of 14 SD feeds on November 29: Disney Junior, Beate-Uhse.TV, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, 13th Street, Fox Series, TNT Series, Syfy, NatGeo Wild, Spiegel Geschichte, Sky 1, TNT Film, Disney Cinemagic and Sky Atlantic.

From November 15, these channels will carry a text caption with SD shutdown information. The channels will continue to be available to Sky subscribers in HD quality. Other SD channels on Sky are not affected and will continue to be offered in standard resolution.

In addition to the former SD channels, which Sky customers will then be able to receive in HD quality, the HD channels E! Entertainment HD, Eurosport 1 HD, History HD, Sky Arts HD, TNT Comedy HD and Universal HD will be added for new Sky subscribers and existing customers of the Sky Starter package. All Cinema customers will in future always have the channels TNT Film HD and Disney Cinemagic HD included in their package. Activation will take place automatically and without extra charge.

The SD switch-off is part of a major transponder reorganisation by Sky Deutschland on November 29 on the Astra satellite system (19.2° East), through which the pay-TV broadcaster serves DTH satellite households and distribution partners such as cable operators and IPTV providers, who will also be affected by the move. The SD switch-off and reshuffle enables Sky to vacate two transponders. It is, however, not known what Sky will do with the bandwidth at this stage.

As part of the reorganisation, Sky will discontinue the HD channels Sky Select HD, Blue Movie HD and Sky 1+1 HD. Sky Select content in HD will in future be offered via the Sky Store video-on-demand service. Select channels 1-9 and the Select portal are not affected by the changes. Blue Movie content in HD will then be available via the 18+ app on Sky Q. Sky 1+1 HD will be replaced by the series on-demand offer on Sky On Demand and Sky Go.

At the same time, many Sky channels will change transponders. If the channel listing is not automatically updated by the receiver, viewers should perform a channel search on their reception device.

A Sky Deutschland spokesman did not want to comment on the changes when approached by Broadband TV News, but pointed to an upcoming press release on the subject.

Telenet’s quad-play pays off

By Robert Briel

At September 30, 2018, Telenet served 2,135,700 unique customer relationships, which represented approximately 64% of the 3,341,700 homes passed in Flanders and Brussels.

The operator said that it enjoys continued commercial traction for its quad-play “WIGO” bundles, including net additions of 10,300subscribers in Q3 2018 to reach 361,400 “WIGO” subscribers at September 30, 2018.

Commercial performance in the quarter was impacted by higher churn in the acquired SFR footprint following the operator’s accelerated customer migration strategy, skewing the underlying trend.

At September 30, 2018, the operator provided 4,908,200 fixed services (RGUs) consisting of 1,966,200 video, 1,666,500 broadband internet and 1,275,500 fixed-line telephony subscriptions. In addition, approximately 89% of its video subscribers had upgraded to the higher ARPU enhanced video platform at September 30, 2018.

“The third quarter was characterised by a continued intensely competitive environment, underpinned by aggressive back- to-school promotions from our direct competitors,” said John Porter, Telenet CEO.

“The net subscriber trend for our advanced fixed services of enhanced video, broadband internet and fixed-line telephony in Q3 2018 was impacted by higher churn in the acquired SFR footprint in Brussels as part of our accelerated customer migration strategy and from the July 2018 price adjustments. Excluding the impact from the SFR subscriber migrations, the underlying net subscriber trend across the Telenet footprint would have been better.

“Against a competitive market backdrop, characterised by temporary price promotions and improved offers launched by our direct competitors, our net postpaid subscriber growth decelerated during the quarter to 9,500. Our “WIGO” quad- play customer base continued to grow, reaching 361,400 subscribers at September 30, 2018 and representing a solid net inflow of 10,300 fully converged subscribers in the third quarter. At September 30, 2018, around 17% of our cable customers subscribed to any of our “WIGO” bundles versus around 12% a year earlier.

“We continue to focus on providing a great customer experience and seamless superior connectivity on all networks and devices. In early October, we launched “Telenet TV”, our new TV platform offering an unparalleled content experience for our customers across multiple devices and platforms. In that respect, we launched the “Free G” option for both our current and future “WIGO” customers, enabling them to use certain apps, including our “Yelo Play” and “Play Sports” apps, “Whatsapp” and “Facebook Messenger” without impacting their mobile data allowance.”

Ukrainian partners win key UEFA rights

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine’s TV channels Futbol 1 and Futbol 2, along with the country’s leading cable operator Volia, have been awarded the broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for three seasons beginning 2018/19.

Commenting on the development, Guy Laurent Epstein, UEFA marketing director, said: “We are pleased to conclude an agreement with Volia and Media Group Ukraine in Ukraine (Futbol 1 / Futbol 2), which gives them the right to broadcast all matches of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in 2018-21. This confirms the strong relationship between UEFA and the Media Group Ukraine on the territory of Ukraine, as well as a significant step for Volia, as it has begun to buy football content. We look forward to seeing our partners bring UEFA club competitions to the marketplace where passions are always high, for example, the success of the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev”.

Alexander Denisov, the director of Futbol 1 and 2, added: “It is the unity of effort and experience of the TV channels Futbol 1 and Fubol2 , the only paid sports TVchannels in Ukraine, and the largest telecommunications services provider Volia, that will allow Ukrainian fans to enjoy spectacular European football for the next three seasons. The main club tournaments of the planet will be available in Ukraine in the best quality and in optimum conditions”.

György Zsembery, CEO Volia, said: “The joint victory in the tender is a strategically important step for the company Volia as a leader in the digital entertainment market. The right to broadcast premium sports content is a contribution to the development of paid television and sports marketing in Ukraine. This gives us the opportunity to provide Ukrainian consumers with digital interactive services, high-speed internet and exclusive movie channels, as well as innovative sporting products. We are honoured to know that UEFA also sees us as a reliable partner in Ukraine”.

The partnerhip between Futbol 1 and Futbol 2 and Volia will allow viewrs in nearly 15 million households in Ukraine to watch live broadcast of the UEFA Champions League and Euroap League over the next three years.

Home market best for Telenor

By Julian Clover

Telenor’s rebranded Norwegian TV business added an additional 2,000 subscribers on the quarter.

On Tuesday it was announced Canal Digital Kabel is to be integrated into Telenor Norway. The TV business has a stable 548,000 subscribers.

“In Norway, network quality is key to our customers and we are proud to have the world’s fastest mobile network. Our mobile customer base grew for the first time in three years and in addition, we continued to expand our fibre network and connected close to 9,000 households during the quarter,” said Sigve Brekke, Chief Executive Officer of Telenor Group. “We also successfully completed the sale of our operations in Central and Eastern Europe and will continue to drive our transformation forward with a clear focus on growth, efficiency and simplification.”

The Canal Digital branding remains in DTH, where the subscriber base continues to erode, losing 11,000 to end September on 806,000 subs.

Canal Digital, which broadcasts from Telenor’s one West position, increased EBITDA by 3%.

Cirkus to join Vodafone Deutschland

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The international SVOD service Cirkus will become available on Vodafone Deutschland’s GigaTV platform from November 2018.

Vodafone’s customers will be able to access Cirkus’ crime and thriller series from the UK, Scandinavia and other European countries via Vodafone’s GigaTV 4K box on TV screens and via the GigaTV app on smartphones and tablets.

For €3.99 per month, viewers can book the Cirkus package in addition to their Vodafone contract and cancel it with four weeks’ notice. New customers receive one trial month free of charge.

“Our exciting collaboration with Vodafone Germany combines the power of Vodafone’s GigaTV technology with our high-quality scripted series catalogue enabling Vodafone subscribers to indulge in ‘pure crime’ whenever and wherever,” said the two Cirkus founders Mark Bradford and Hugh Williams.

“Just a year ago, we successfully entered the German and Austrian markets as one of the first Amazon Prime Video Channels. Now, we step it up a notch with a telecommunications heavyweight like Vodafone. We are very much looking forward to the cooperation.”

Canal Digital Kabel merges with Telenor Norway

By Julian Clover

Canal Digital Kabel is to be integrated into Telenor Norway. Customer relationships will be transferred to the Telenor brand.

Birgit Bjørnsen, Head of TV and Broadband in Telenor Norway says TV is no longer an independent medium, but is closely linked to mobile and broadband, making it natural to merge the brands.

“We will continue to connect customers to the services and content that matters most to them, whether it is over linear TV or streaming. All Canal Digital Kabel TV and Broadband customers keep prices and services, and the transition is done automatically.”

Digital TV platform T-We and all broadband customers will now come under the Telenor umbrella.

Canal Digital will continue to be the DTH satellite brand across the Nordic region.

Ukraine’s Triolan inks 1+1 agreement

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian cable operator Triolan has signed an agreement with 1+1 Media for the continued distribution of the latter’s channels from 2019.

In a statement, 1+ 1 Media says that Triolan is one of the first providers to sign such an agreement for next year “on mutually beneficial terms and with an acceptable cost for both parties’ connection to the consumer”.

Valid from January 1, it covers the channels 1 + 1, 2 + 2, Tet, PlusPlus, Bigudi, Unian, Kvartal TV, Paramount Comedy, Spike, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon HD, Nick. Jr., Bolt, Star Cinemas and Star Family. The will be offered in all cities in which Trilan has a presence.

NetCologne stays with M7 for cable TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator NetCologne will continue to be supplied with TV channels by M7 Deutschland.

The partnership, which has existed for more than ten years, has been strengthened through a new agreement.

As a result, NetCologne’s cable TV customers will continue to have access to over 100 premium TV channels, including pay-TV channels and around 50 international TV channels in nine languages, which are in particular demand by the housing industry partners for the TV supply of their tenants.

As part of the renewed agreement, NetCologne makes use of M7’s turnkey 360° all-round service. This includes the distribution of the linear TV channel packages Basis HD, Premium HD and Family HD to the head-ends via satellite.

In addition, M7 encrypts all channel packages and provides the necessary hardware on the receiving end, such as CI+ modules and set-top boxes.

NetCologne and its subsidiary NetAachen serve around 260,000 TV households in the Cologne, Bonn, Leverkusen, Aachen, Düren, Düsseldorf and Neuss areas with TV channels.

M7 continues to supply wilhelm.tel with TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator wilhelm.tel has expanded its cooperation with M7 Deutschland, which has existed since 2005, through several agreements.

The company continues to distribute around 70 German and international premium channels from the M7 portfolio Pay-TV, Basis HD and International TV. The partnership also includes sales support measures for wilhelm.tel to increase customer loyalty and promote new business.

In addition, the regional network operator will use the new M7 Livestream service for signal delivery.

Poland’s Inea joins global broadband elite

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish cable operator Inea has introduced one of the world’s fastest consumer broadband products.

Offering download speeds of up to 10Gbps, it is currently available to around 30,000 homes in Poznan and will be offered throughout the city by the end of the year.

The product employs FTTH technology, including a new generation fibre solution supplied by Nokia, and will also in due course be rolled out to Inea’s other networks.

It costs PLN390 (€90.70) a month and with it Poland has joined a small number of locations that provide such download speeds. They include Switzerland, US, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Commenting on the development, Michal Bartkowiak, COO, Inea, said: “Inea has always focused on innovation. Technology is growing at a dizzying pace, and we do not want to place limits on our clients. Several times in our history we have proved that we are a technological leader, today the time has come for the next step.

“It is worth emphasising that the symmetrical connection offered by us will allow IT professionals, artists and people dealing with video processing or new technologies such as virtual or extended reality to work freely from home. From today, remote work will not be a problem for them. This is not yet our last word on this issue”.

Com Hem applies for Nasdaq delisting

By Julian Clover

Cablenet Com Hem has applied for the delisting of its shares from Nasdaq Stockholm.

It follows the approval of the European Commission of its plans to merge with telco Tele2. The Commission found that the impact of the transaction on the market would be very limited due to the lack of the relative lack of penetration into the mobile market and of Tele2 into the fixed line business.

“As one company, we will be able to offer a portfolio of truly integrated services, with significant benefits for Swedish individuals, households, businesses and our shareholders as a result,” said Anders Nilsson, CEO of Com Hem and incoming President and CEO of Tele2/ My colleagues at both Tele2 and Com Hem can look forward to some very exciting years ahead, and I am sure that I am not the only one with high expectations.”

The date of the delisting will be established once the merger has formally taken place. Com Hem believes this will be on November 5, 2018.

CEE cable’s audience measurement conundrum

By Chris Dziadul, PIKE 2018, Lodz

While using the return channel for audience measurement is nothing new in Poland, the whole issue of data collection presents a variety of challenges for cable operators across Central and Eastern Europe.

Speaking in a meeting of Eastern and Western European cable operators ahead of the start of the 45th International Conference and Exhibition PIKE 2018 in Lodz, Dariusz Gumbrycht from AGB Nielsen Media Research outlined the pros and cons of Nielsen Panels and Return Path Data (RPD) and how the two could be combined to give the best of both worlds.

He also said that Poland had been the first country chosen by Nielsen for RPD in 2008. Since then, it had been introduced in the US, along with China, Taiwan, Singapore and Turkey.

During the discussion participants from a number of Central and Eastern European countries provided a brief outline of how cable operators see audience measurement in their respective markets.

In Ukraine, Nielsen has been present for several years but was recently joined by a new company named Big Data UA. Figures it produced for the country’s three largest cable operators in May and September contradicted those from Nielsen. However, it should be noted that unlike Poland, underreporting is commonplace in Ukraine.

In Russia, on the other hand, media measurement has to some degree been politicised, with only Russian-owned companies allowed to collect data. The process is not independent and makes it impossible to produce figures for thematic channels. In Lithuania, large operators do their own research for thematic and other channels, though local channels are not measured. There is no market solidarity and everyone is effectively “doing their own thing”.

Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic IPTV plays an important part in producing data. In Belarus, the incumbent Beltelecom collects a huge amount of data and then uses it to negotiate with TV channels.

For its part, the Polish market is on the verge of huge change in the area of audience research. Driven by the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), it will see a new body encompassing several interested parties formed later this year to take things forward in 2019.