Two Russian pay TV service providers with contrasting business models provided interesting insights into some of the dynamics at work in the Russian market at Informa’s Digital TV CEE event in Prague yesterday.
Speaking on a panel session on combating churn and delivering revenue growth, Anna Soppova, PR director at Russian mass-market DTH provider Tricolor TV, said that Tricolor’s customers primarily bought the service for ease of connection and ease of usage, for a “fantastic price for services” – €15 a year – and for a long-lasting service based on a single annual payment.
Customers want a simple service, she said, without too much additional complexity. However, customers could also buy additional services for small additional fees.
Soppova said there was little churn from satellite services in Russia, largely because it was difficult to change provider. Customers had to change their reception equipment, which few were willing to do, she said. While there was some churn in large cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, there was very little in rural areas.
Alexander Kosarev, deputy head of network operations and development at Russian cable operator Akado said that while TV packages cost about US$12-15 a month (€9.50-12), ARPU was higher because Akado bundled TV services with internet and telephony. Kosarev said that his company had worked constantly over the last few years to improve quality of service.
Kosarev said Akado has seen slow churn on TV but higher churn on internet services and had moved to introduce higher speed DOCSIS 3.0 services to improve the quality of the latter. He said churn on broadband and TV was now stable and around the same level. Churn had also forced the company to improve the quality of its services, he said.
Kosarev said that customers had little loyalty to infrastructure or brand and Akado had sought to build a stronger relationship with its base by investing in customer relations, with timely delivery of services at the household level by well-presented staff.
Speaking on the same panel, Pawel Fecko, sales and customer care director at Polish cable operator INEA said that customers wanted something that worked. He said that INEA was making 2012 the ‘year of the customer’ and was focusing on implementing an SAP-based IT system to make customer care more efficient. INEA’s ARPU is about €20 a month.
Fecko said that technical operations staff had a big impact on customer acquisition and retention. It was also important to deliver as promised on the date the customer chose.