In the run-up to ANGA Cable, Digital TV Europe speaks to Peter Charissé, managing director, ANGA, about the themes of this year event and some of the wider issues facing the German market over the coming year.
What are ANGA’s principal objectives for the year ahead? Since cable companies have massively increased their market share over the past years – two out of three new broadband customers opt for cable instead of DSL – the introduction of new media offers is now coming back into focus. In particular this includes Smart TV and video-on-demand. This is where I expect to see many new products from our cable companies.
What were last year’s German cable industry highlights? We have definitely gained price and performance leadership in the internet access market. In Germany, anyone looking for access which is as fast and as favourably priced as possible chooses cable almost automatically. Five years ago this would have been inconceivable.
What are the key themes of the 2012 congress? As I mentioned earlier: Smart TV and video-on-demand will be the key themes of the show. Additional themes for 2012 are hybrid networks, fibre, IPTV and the connected home. We will thus present the current market developments: broadband and TV are now growing together in the mass market – present right on the television screen. Content is becoming more and more important for broadband providers, and vice versa, access to broadband networks is more and more important for content providers. The ANGA Cable Show provides a focused marketplace for this development. No other event brings network operators, vendors and content providers closer together than the ANGA Cable Show.
What impact will merger of Unitymedia and Kabel BW have on German cable competition? I expect, in particular, to see product innovations in the field of TV and interactive media. I hope that first innovations will already be presented mid-June at the ANGA Cable Show.
Do you anticipate further consolidation this year? There might be singular mid-size mergers. I do not expect any large consolidation. However, we do see new players. More and more city carriers are now entering the field of TV provisioning and even Deutsche Telekom is again engaged in the traditional cable business.
How will cable operators react to Sky Deutschland retaining the Bundesliga rights? Our cable companies have co-operated with Sky for many years. Therefore I don’t expect that Sky’s retaining the Bundesliga rights for 2013 to 2017 will have any significant impact on our cable companies and their subscribers. It might even generate additional options. Thus, the Bundesliga decision in favour of Sky has strengthened rather than weakened our position in competing with other network operators.
What further steps should cable operators take to drive the development of pay TV and digital services? Convenience is a key concept in this context. We have to continually improve our customer devices’ convenience of use. This offers huge opportunities for cable operators and vendors together.
How are advanced services including multiscreen, DVR and VOD being marketed to German consumers? Cable customers are embracing digital video recording extremely well. As hoped for, the DVR has proven to be one of the key drivers for using digital TV offers. As to VOD and multiscreen I think the ball has been set rolling and the speed of acceptance in the market will accelerate over the next months. For this, I also expect to see new products at the ANGA Cable Show.
Should online, over-the-top services be seen as a threat or opportunity by cable operators? So-called over-the-top services are indeed partly competing with some of our products. However, this will be an incentive for us and as such opens new opportunities. In Germany, we have long been accustomed to tough competition – as is well-known; we even have to compete with a free-of-cost satellite and DTT offer. Despite this we have stood our ground very well over the years. And that is why there is no reason for us to be anxious about new competitors. With our fast next-generation access networks and a customer base of 18 million homes we also have an outstanding starting position in the over-the-top world.