Still room for pay-TV growth in Poland, says Tellenbach

There is still potential room for growth of premium satellite services in Poland to the tune of one and a half to two million homes, but consolidation amongst the existing players is nevertheless likely in the medium term, according to TVN CEO Markus Tellenbach.

Interviewed by DTVE Daily following TVN’s agreement with Telekomunikacja Polska (TP) to market triple-play services to each other’s subscriber bases, Tellenbach said that there were about three to four million homes without a cable or satellite-delivered pay-TV service that could be targeted. “I think a conservative estimate for satellite is one and a half to two million homes for the next two to three years,” he said.

Tellenbach said that there were now two fully diversified media companies in the Polish market – TVN and Polsat – both with strong local content. He said that while Polsat was already providing triple-play services, TVN’s deal with TP left the third DTH pay-TV player, Cyfra Plus looking increasingly isolated. The Canal Plus-backed pay-TV operator has not been able to strike a partnership with a telco to provide broadband and telephony as part of a bundled offering.

“It may be possible in the next couple of years that some consolidation will occur – I don’t think that four platforms will be competing in five years time,” said Tellenbach.
Tellenbach said that estimated EBITDA benefit of PLN100m (€25m) each to TVN and TP as a result of the pair’s deal was “a cautious estimate” and that the bulk of the benefit would arise from increased revenue.

Tellenbach said that under the deal with TP, TVN’s pay-TV service ‘n’ would have a direct relationship with customers who signed up for the service via TP. While customers that continue to receive basic TV services from TP will continue their existing relationship, those that choose to upgrade to receive premium channels from ‘n’ will also become ‘n’ customers. He said the deal would position ‘n’ as the only DTH provider in Poland to be able to offer quad-play contract-based services to customers.

“We recognise each other’s strengths,” said Tellenbach. “TP is a powerful telco and TVN is a fully diversified Polish media company.”

Tellenbach said that TVN’s low-cost pre-paid TV service, TNK, which includes HD channels and is available via hybrid boxes that can also receive digital-terrestrial TV, may also benefit from the partnership in the future. He said he did not believe the partnership with TP would raise any regulatory issues as TVN would continue to make its channels available to competing platforms.
Tellenbach said he also saw digital-terrestrial TV as an “interesting opportunity” for TVN, given that “cable and fixed-line penetration are quite limited,” with many cable operators being small community-based operations with limited technical capability. He said that subscription-based services could be a possibility for the future, though there is no provision for them in the current legislation covering DTT.