Polsat CEO Sees Strategy Beyond Satellite
[Satellite News 10-23-08] Cyfrowy Polsat has staked a place as a satellite success story in Eastern Europe, as the company has overtaken Cyfra+ Cyfrowy to become the largest DTH operator in Poland. Cyfrowy Polsat has about 2.3 million subscribers and wants become much more of a force on the Polish communications landscape overall, recently launching mobile telephony services in the first stage of bundling satellite TV with other services.
“We want to be a triple-play, maybe even a quadruple-play provider,” Polsat’s enigmatic CEO, Dominik Libicki told Satellite News in an exclusive interview that mobile services were only the start. He said, We are looking carefully at all different technologies to offer services. Only when we find the right technology and right business model, would we look to do something.”
Polsat’s launched its pre-paid mobile telephony services, based on the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model, in June and added post-paid services in September. “We have a full infrastructure, so we have our own billing system, our own customer service system and our own connection points,” said Libicki. “We have leased the bandwidth from PTC. This is a very unique model. This will ensure that we have the best rates. We control the clients and the network. We create our own products. We gain revenues from termination rates. We have more control than in the usual MVNO model.”
Polsat, which produces its own TV channels also could be one of the companies that can take advantage of any mobile TV opportunity, however, Libicki is not sure when this opportunity may materialize. “In terms of mobile TV, there is one multiplex planned at the moment. We don’t know when it will start. It is difficult to say whether we are interested in mobile TV, because we don’t know the conditions attached to using this multiplex. The general concept is very interesting, but we know this multiplex will not cover the whole country,” he said.
But while the company is looking to expand its range of services to customers, there is still plenty of growth to be had in the pay-TV market. “The saturation of pay-TV in Poland if you add cable, is slightly above 60 percent,” said Libicki. “I believe Poland can have the same saturation of pay-TV as Romania, which at the moment has around 75 percent. There are 13.8 million households, so that means in the medium term that satellite pay-TV will grow by 2 million to 2.5 million households, I think. If you look at the [compound annual growth rate] of cable versus satellite in Poland, cable is 3 percent and satellite is 46 percent, so this growth will end up mainly on satellite.”
Stéphanie Villaret, a media analyst at French-based consultancy, Idate, believes Poland is one of the most lucrative markets for DTH services in Eastern Europe, although she expects consolidation in markets where there are numerous DTH operators. “The satellite-TV market in Western Europe is mainly mature and highly concentrated, with one or two DTH packages per country on average. In Central and Eastern Europe, we see a situation where there can be up to four DTH packages per country, especially in countries such as Poland, Romania, Russia or Ukraine. However, Idate analysts estimate there will likely be a consolidation phase in a few years, as this situation is not sustainable on the long term,” she said.