Analyst: ‘Bar of gold’ for Central European cable investors
Strong growth in the cable industry will continue in 2014 and beyond, participants at Day 2 of Cable Europe’s 2014 Cable Congress were told. Cable customers have overwhelmingly embraced digital TV services, with over half of European customers now having made the switch, but significant opportunities remain in Eastern Europe and for providers to move beyond successful triple play packages to offer new services.
“There is a bar of gold sitting on the mantelpiece if you are investing in Central European cable,” stated Guy Bisson, Research Director Television at IHS, advising out that conversion to digital in Central Europe has only just passed 25 per cent. “Revenue-wise TV is key,” he added, “because it boosts the value of the customer and moves them into the triple play.”
Across Europe, IHS research shows that video-on-demand services grew by almost 20 per cent in 2013, demonstrating the take up of new services. According to Bisson, the challenge for cable now is to move from “pure breed to hybrid,” building on the success of triple play to include mobile, over-the-top, home networks and Wi-Fi roaming. “Infrastructure matters,” Bisson declared, suggesting that it gave cable a significant advantage in the future delivery of communications and entertainment services.
Cable’s superior infrastructure is also a key driver of consolidation in the industry, with an increasing number of deals in Western Europe in recent years. According to Bisson, deals in Western Europe have been valued at up to €3,000 per home, compared to around €1,000 per home in Central and Eastern Europe.
According to Cliff Marriott, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, the industry is making its way in Europe towards concluding the first wave of consolidation, which is creating one cable operator in each regional market. “Cable-mobile convergence is next,” he suggested. With respect to deals in the content space, a panel session on deal-making concluded that partnerships rather than M&A would remain the primary focus for operators.