For content providers, the proliferation of a number of new pay-TV platforms in the region is a huge opportunity. With new DTH platforms emerging regularly, as well telcos looking to play in the IPTV space, it has never been a better time for a content player to do deals in the region. Bhavneet Singh, managing director and executive vice president, emerging markets, MTV Networks International said the Eastern European TV market was now at a “crossroads”. He said, “It is only going to get better. Over the past two years or so, as a region, it has definitely been catching the attention of the world, and it is now starting to catch up with the likes of Western Europe. Poland and Turkey, for example, are countries with already significant annual ad revenues. Looking forwards, TV revenue from Eastern Europe is set to double to $12 billion by 2013 according to latest reports, with the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary leading the way. Media spend is growing four times as fast in Eastern Europe versus Western Europe and adding five million broadband users a year.”
In terms of why the region has suddenly become really attractive to a number of broadcast players, Singh added, “I think that what is driving this growth is the stable economic conditions in almost all of the countries in Eastern Europe. This means that there is more marketing and advertising money wanting to find a home in the region, and this means that broadcasters have moved away from being largely dependent on imports and are now moving more and more to local production, which is always far more popular.”
A smooth move to digital is also helping. “The region as a whole is moving into digital very quickly and very cleanly. Different media platforms have evolved and are now more widely available and Eastern European audiences are becoming more and more discerning. All of these elements represent good opportunities in the region. However, it doesn't stop there. The countries themselves and the diversity of cultures across Eastern Europe also means that this region has a great deal to offer international companies looking to expand or set up shop there,” noted Singh.
With so many DTH platforms emerging in the region, Singh is unsure what impact IPTV will have in Eastern Europe. He says, “In terms of IPTV, the impact of IPTV varies according to the dynamics of the local market. In places where the cable and satellite market is extremely consolidated and has been static for some time, such as in the Czech Republic, IPTV has the potential to be a significantly disruptive influence. In other markets, where digital cable and wideband DTH are already well penetrated, we expect IPTV to remain a niche product. But what's interesting about IPTV is that it tends to be offered by telecom providers as part of triple or quad play - and we can see some very interesting opportunities here to strike up multimedia deals with these operators.”
Singh is optimistic that the broadcast landscape in Eastern Europe will continue to be a very dynamic one over the next few years. He added, “If you look at markets in Central and Eastern Europe like Poland, they're already comparable in scale to some Western and developed economies and in some cases, such as digital penetration, they've actually surpassed and leap-frogged certain Western countries. Central and Eastern Europe's increasingly sophisticated consumer consumption will continue to drive dramatic growth in the region and the region is rapidly establishing itself as a key player in the international media landscape.”
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