Serbia Broadband (SBB), Serbia's largest cable operator, is targeting 100,000 subscribers for its new direct-to-home (DTH) service within the next two years.
SBB announced it was launching a DTH service at the end of January based on Eutelsat's W2 satellite. TotalTV initially will offer 25 channels. "It is difficult to say but we hope in a couple of years, that we can be up to 100,000 subscribers on DTH," Dragan Solak, SBB's CEO said. "We will be happy with half of that number in the first year and we feel there is a market to satisfy that."
Solak said the operator was targeting up to 1 million households with its DTH services, and that using satellite really was SBB's only option in terms of extending its footprint. The opportunities of providing Internet protocol (IP) TV services and working with Telecom Serbia are limited, and the infrastructure is not yet ready to support nationwide IPTV service.
Market Ready For Satellite-Based Offering
SBB felt the time was right to launch a DTH service in Serbia, particularly in areas which are not well cabled. "With an increased number of localized channels, we felt that we can address the market of non-cabled settlements where localization of the offered content is crucial," Solak said. "We also felt we had a package which had a sufficient number of channels, and it is local enough to address 100 percent of the Serbian and Montenegrin market. Basically, we still feel that half of the households within Serbia and Montenegro can't access cable services. We thought it was a feasible market to be addressed with a service that they might need."
SBB is adopting a wait-and-see approach in terms of offering interactive services. Solak added, "We are selling the [set-top boxes], which have interactivity functionality inside. But at the initial launch, this functionality will not be active. In terms of the initial launch, we are launching a basic television over satellite service, a relatively simple upgrade that can be done with the software over satellite to enable interactive services. We are definitely counting on that."
The DTH service also will be given a boost when HBO launches services at the beginning of March. The success of the movie channel could help spark the market for personal video recorder (PVR) services in the Serbia as early as next year. "The launch of HBO is a step in the right direction, and based on the success of HBO and the penetration among our customers, it will be a good estimate for us in terms of approaching additional premium services. HBO will help us in this decision. I think it is possible we could launch PVR services in 2007," Solak said.
Contact, Aleksandra Glodovic, Serbia Broadband, e-mail, email@example.com