Eastern Europe plays catch-up over digital

Europe’s eastern countries will remain the source of fastest growth in pay TV over the next five years as the region completes its digitization.

A survey by Digital TV Eastern Europe predicts that the number of digital TV homes in the region will double by 2018 and drive up ARPU so that TV revenues increase by almost a third to $7.5 billion.

Russia will contribute $1 billion of the projected $1.8 billion revenue gain, but this still leaves plenty to go around for some of the other more buoyant pay-TV markets of the region, such as the Czech Republic and also Romania. On the other hand, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are expected to experience near flat pay-TV revenues over the measurement period.

In common with the rest of Europe and elsewhere, satellite is expected to score over cable, and overtake it as the pay-TV platform generating most revenue by 2017, while IPTV revenues will more than double by 2018. Digital conversion has so far lagged behind the rest of Europe, but is now catching up, with half of TV households having converted by the end of 2012, compared with 20 percent four years earlier. Fast take-up combined with analog terrestrial switch-off will propel digital TV penetration to 61.4 percent by the end of 2013 and on to 97.3 percent by 2018. By then, 10 of the 21 countries in the region covered by the report will be completely digital. Estonia became the first to complete full conversion in 2012.