Advanced Television

Digital pay-TV soars in Eastern Europe

April 15, 2014

The number of digital pay-TV subscribers will increase from 26.1 million (21.5 per cent of TV households) in 2010 to 45.0 million (36.6 per cent) in 2013 and onto 73.6 million (58.2 per cent) by 2020, according to a report from Digital TV Research.

As Eastern Europe crawls out of recession, the number of digital TV homes will triple between 2010 and 2020; up from 41.0 million to 124.7 million. From the 52.3 million digital TV homes to be added between 2013 and 2020, DTT will supply 24.9 million, digital cable 15.3 million, IPTV 6.6 million and pay satellite TV 5.8 million.

The Digital TV Eastern Europe report states that digital TV penetration crossed the halfway mark of TV households in 2012, up from a third at end-2010. Fast take-up will push digital TV penetration to two-thirds by end-2014 and onto 98.5 per cent by 2020. Thirteen of the 21 countries covered in this report will be completely digital by 2020, with Estonia the first to full conversion – in 2012.

Simon Murray, author of the report, clarified: “For the purposes of this report, we have assumed that the situation in the Ukraine will be resolved quickly, with Russia withdrawing from the Crimea.”

The number of analogue terrestrial TV households halved between 2010 and 2013; leaving 23.2 million. Only 11.9 million DTT homes were added, therefore the digital pay TV platforms benefited from the analogue terrestrial homes converting to digital. However, 24.9 million DTT homes will be added between 2013 and 2020, with all of the remaining 23.2 million analogue terrestrial homes lost, so pay TV operators will gain less from terrestrial TV.

Murray added: “With the proportion of terrestrial homes settling, much of the emphasis from pay TV players has fallen on the 27.5 million remaining analogue cable subscribers. Many of these homes will upgrade to digital cable, but some will shift to IPTV and satellite TV. However, many of the remaining analogue cable subscribers are refuseniks, who don’t want to pay more for TV services. As time goes on, the proportion of the remaining analogue cable homes with this attitude increases. Free-to-air DTT (or even pay DTT) is an attractive option for these homes.”

From the 83.6 million digital TV homes to be added across the region between 2010 and 2020, Russia will contribute 40.7 million, with the Ukraine increasing by 13.3 million and Poland 6.7 million.

Pay TV revenues in Eastern Europe will be 48 per cent higher in 2020 ($7,305 million) than in 2010 ($4,944 million). Digital cable and IPTV revenues will more than double between 2013 and 2020, but satellite TV revenues (the main earner) will only grow by 22 per cent over the same period.

Russia will contribute $2.02 billion (28 per cent) of the pay TV revenues in 2020 – overtaking Poland in 2015. Russia will be responsible for nearly half of the region’s $1.1 billion additional pay TV revenues between 2013 and 2020. TV ARPUs have traditionally been very low in Russia, but they are set to increase.

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