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CEE TV industry news stories

Chris Dziadul, February 22, 2024
Dirk Gerkens to head Nova Broadcasting Group
Dirk Gerkens has been appointed CEO of Bulgaria’s United Media’s Nova Broadcasting Group, effective February 21. A board member and director of programming, production and ad sales at United Media, he has a 25 year-long career in the TV industry. Prior to joining United Media., Gerkens was CEO of RTL Klub and TV2 in Hungary. He was also Nova’s CEO from 2021-2022. He succeeds Stefana Zdravkova, was CEO since 2022.  
M7 inks double Czech deal
Canal+-owned M7 Group has signed a satellite distribution agreement with Prague-based Stanice O for its music channels Ocko TV and Ocko Star. Ocko TV has been broadcasting since 2002, making it the first Czech thematic TV channel focusing on music and modern lifestyle. Meanwhile, Ocko Star features the greatest hits from the eighties till the present day. As part of the satellite distribution agreement via the M7 platform at Astra 23.5 East, both channels are included in the EPG of Skylink, the leading TV provider for Czech Republic and Slovakia. Furthermore, Skylink provides Ocko Black and Ocko Expres as linear OTT channels.
Polish streaming viewing up 8%
The time spent watching streaming content on TVs in Poland rose by 8% in January. According to Nielsen’s The Gauge, among the streamers, HBO Max, Canal+ Online and Netflix all recorded increases. In January, streaming’s share of viewing was a record 7.6%, with Netflix claiming 2.1%, YouTube 1.6% and other services a combined 3.9%.
O2 TV boosts channel offer
The Czech operator O2 has added BBC Earth, AXN and AXN White, along with the new sports-entertainment channel Strike TV, to its offer. On February 29 it will also expand its channel line-up with Nova Sport 5 HD and Nova Sport 6 HD.  
Polsat opts for Android TV
Poland’s Polsat Plus Group has deployed its first Android TV receiver. It is being offered by Netia, which is part of the group, and known as the Netia Soundbox 4K. The receiver is produced by Sagemcom, in cooperation with Bang &Olufsen and Dolby, and uses Dolby Atmos technology. Netia has also announced a rebrand.
Levira buys AA-SAT
Levira has acquired the Estonian professional satellite communications company AA-SAT for an undisclosed fee. Founded in 1997, AA-SAT offers TV, voice and internet connections in cooperation with the world’s leading manufacturers and service providers. Tallinn-based Levira is the main operator of TV and radio broadcast networks in Estonia and owns one of the largest data centres in the country. Its customers are international and local IT companies and media service providers.  
Yettel TV one year on
The Hungarian operator Yettel has provided an update on its TV service, which was launched a year ago. Although Yettel TV is available on TVs, PCs and smart devices, 94% of subscribers use the service primarily on large screen, classical TV. Over half (55%) watch it on one device and 33% use two devices. Furthermore, 54% of subscribers are men, 46% women and the majority aged between 25-49.
Vivacom expands in Bulgaria
United Group’s Vivacom has expanded its 5G high-speed home internet coverage to seven more cities in Bulgaria. The biggest advantage to consumers in these cities is that they will also now have access to the interactive TV platform EON, which includes over 210 TV channels and a large video library that contains HBO On Demand, Arena Play and Pickbox NOW.
Albanian pubcaster inks Turkish deal
The Albanian public broadcaster RTSH has signed a cooperation protocol for joint broadcasts with its Turkish counterpart TRT. The 14-point protocol will allow the two parties to acquire the rights to broadcast radio and television programmes for free or against a fee for a certain licence period or exchange programmes free of charge.
Tricolor maintains pay-TV lead
Russia’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor ended 2023 with 12.314 million subscribers, or 0.25% more than a year earlier. Of these, 10.5 million had access to HD channels. Last November the company implemented a large scale project called Tricolor Ultra which it says is designed to protect its broadcasts from attacks by “a neighbouring state”. In it, subscribers have access to over 300 TV channels. They include 100+ in Ultra HD and HD, 100+ movie and 100+ entertainment channels.  Tricolor also notes that in 2023 total viewing time increased by 40%. It also launched the proprietary channels Soviet Film Classics and Love Story in 2023. The share of TV viewing of its own movie channels on satellite was 15%, rising to 19% online. The total viewing share of film and series TV channels at the end of 2023 amounted to a record 27.4%, boosted by all-Russian premieres of Turkish and Filipino series.

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© Chris Dziadul, 2024
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