CEE cable set for “return to growth” despite DTH competition

Cable in central and eastern Europe will likely soon return to ARPU growth despite intense competition from low-cost DTH providers and the impact of the economic crisis on the region, according to Nikolaus Bethlen, director at private-equity group Mid Europa Partners.

Speaking at Informa Telecoms and Media’s Digital TV Central and Eastern Europe conference in Bucharest, Bethlen said that there were signs that ARPU erosion was slowing and that cable’s ability to deliver high-bandwidth broadband services would enable it to raise average revenues. “We have seen evidence that we have hit the bottom and there will be some ARPU growth especially from bandwidth that cable delivers – higher bandwidth equals higher ARPU,” he said.

Bethlen said aggressive DTH competition in Poland had mostly taken share from free-to-air terrestrial viewing rather than cable.

Bethlen also said that mobile operators could increasingly look to acquire cable assets as they try to “figure out how to channel traffic through fixed networks”.
Mid Europa Partners’ assets in the region include Serbian pay-TV operator SBB, Slovenian cable operator Telemach, Bulgarian DTH provider ITV Partner and Polish cable operator Aster.

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