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CEE TV industry news stories

Chris Dziadul, April 25, 2024
CEE first for SkyShowtime
Digi Romania has become the first operator in Central and Eastern Europe to reach a B2B agreement with SkyShowtime. As a result, starting April 25, the telco will distribute the premium linear channels SkyShowtime 1HD and SkyShowtime 2 HD to all customers who watch its digital TV service. Subscribers will have login access to all SkyShowtime content, including the latest blockbusters from Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios. They will also be able to watch major titles of exclusive TV series on the platform.  
United Group results: key figures
United Group saw its revenues and EBITDAal both grow by 7% in 2023, to €2,791 million and €988 million respectively.
In 2023, more than 5.30 million households relied on United Group’s broadband and telecom services, while its mobile services reached over 7.34 million subscribers. Meanwhile, its content arm United Media currently reaches 8.2 million households through its channels and produces close to 50% of the total content in its TV portfolio. Its main primetime programmes typically receive ratings of between 25% and 40% share in the main markets where its media segment operates. United Group has successfully completed close to 150 accretive acquisitions since 2000, of which five were in 2023. Its most recent acquisition was Bulgaria’s Bulsatcom in February this year. It also became the second largest mobile operator in Slovenia in Q1 this year.
Poles favour smart TV streaming
Over 14 million Polish internet viewers use streaming applications on their smart TVs. According to data from the VideoTrack Study by Wavemaker, they most often watch on Samsung TVs and choose Netflix, which is slightly ahead of YouTube in the ranking of the most popular smart TV applications. The study notes that six out of 10 Polish internet viewers, if given a choice, like to use streaming services on their TVs. Every fourth chooses a computer or laptop and only one in 10 a smartphone screen. The latter is particularly popular amongst the youngest viewers (aged 16-24). However, the youngest viewers, if given a choice, also prefer to see streaming services on smart TV, while smart TV reception is most popular among those aged 35-54.
Major change for Slovak pubcaster
The Slovak government has approved a controversial draft law that will see the public broadcaster RTVS replaced by a new body known as Slovak Television and Radio (STVR). Critics say it will result in political control of the public broadcaster, while private TV stations argue that STVR will be allowed to show much more advertising than RTVS, and in doing so unbalance the market.
Max prices in Czech and Slovakia revealed
The standard subscription to the new streaming service Max will cost CZK219 a month in the Czech Republic. According to local reports, a premium subscription will cost CZK299 a month and there will also be the option to add a sports package. Meanwhile in Slovakia, the standard and premium packages will cost €7.99 and €9.99 a month respectively.  Although these prices are higher than that currently charged for HBO Max, viewers will be offered considerably more content, effectively HBO Max, Discovery+ and Eurosport in a single app. Max will make its debut in the two countries in May 21 as part of a rollout that also includes the CEE region, the Nordics and Iberia. It will launch in Poland, the Netherlands, France and Belgium the following month, ahead of the Paris Olympics.
Latvia’s Tet launches media and streaming technologies brand
The Latvian incumbent telco Tet has launched a new brand named ‘Backscreen’ that offers a modern set of services for storage, processing, publishing, streaming and playback of video content. The services are useful for streaming VOD, live TV channels, live events, sports, digital training, business marketing and any other video content, They are scalable so can be used by both large broadcasters and telcos with millions of viewers, as well as content owners who need to broadcast to a small number of viewers.
Ukrainian operators help out following Kharkiv hit
TV channel distributors in Ukraine have stepped in to help viewers following the destruction of the TV tower in Kharkiv by a Russian missile attack. Kyivstar TV, for instance, is providing free access to its platform to residents or the city and surrounding region so that they can watch Ukrainian information resources. Kyivstar TV is a joint venture between 1+1 Media and Kyivstar and offer viewers more than 400 TV channels and a VOD library of 20,000 films, series, cartoons and shows. Meanwhile, the DTH operator Viasat has introduced a “National Liberty” tariff in which residents of parts of Ukraine, including Kharkiv, where terrestrial TV signals can no longer be received access to Viasat’s TV offer for UAH49 (€1.15) a month for six months.  
Orange gains TV subs in Poland
Orange Polska ended the first quarter with a total of 953,000 subscribers to its TV services. This was up from 943,000 in the same period last year, with the overwhelming majority (900,000, compared to 839,000 in Q1 2023) using IPTV. At the same time, the number of DTH subscribers halved, from 103,000 to 52,000.  Separately, Orange Romania has said that from now on its results will be announced semi-annually, on June 30 and December 31.
Streamer Voyo ahead of schedule
Daniel Grunt, the CEO of Czech Republic’s TV Nova, expects the streaming service Voyo, which is already profitable, to reach the landmark figure of one million paying subscribers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia at some stage next year. The original goal was to have this total by the end of 2025. Speaking to the Czech media, Grunt also said that while Netflix is still the market leader, “we don’t actually even aspire to be number one. Our strategy is that we want to be the strongest local player, to be number two in the market and complement the multinational number one. That’s working well for us.” Voyo is present in all CEE six markets TV Nova’s operator Central European Media Enterprises (CME) is present in. Grunt also revealed that TV Nova expects at least half of its earnings will still come from ad revenue in its traditional linear business in 2030. It currently accounts for around 75% of the total.
OTT takes the lead in Russia
OTT and to a lesser extent IPTV are driving growth in Russia’s pay-TV market. Figures published by J’son & Partners show that as of the end of 2023 there were a total of 54.79 million subscribers to pay-TV services, or 0.3% more than 12 months earlier. While satellite (13.7 million, -3.5%), analogue cable (9 million, -7.5%) and digital cable (5.8 million, -2.7%) were all lower than a year earlier, IPTV (14.6 million, +5.4%) and OTT (14.6 million, +7.2%) both registered growth, with OTT taking top spot in subscriber number terms. Revenues from pay-TV services in 2023 amounted to R129.4 billion (€1.3 billion), or 3.8% more than a year earlier. J’son & Partners notes that as of February 2024 advertising was sold on 116 thematic channels in Russia. Ad spend on such channels is projected to grow by an average of 11.9% a year and reach R22.7 billion by 2028.
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© Chris Dziadul, 2024


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