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Satellite still has edge in CEE, say operators

Satellite still has the edge over other distribution technologies in CEE, according to a panel of operators speaking at the Digital TV CEE conference in Budapest.

Satellite operators has the advantage of delivering content to a large-scale audience at a fixed cost and because there is no economic case for investing in high-capacity fixed networks across much of the region, according to panelists.

Stanislav Georgiev, head of media broadcasting, Telekom Austria Group said satellite penetration in the region was up to 45% in some markets. “It is going to grow because pay TV is still growing in the region. It has an important role to play in delivering pay TV revenues,” he said, noting that there has been a lot of discussion around “new things” such as multiscreen TV and OTT that “deliver about 1% of revenues”.

Georgiev said that satellite operators would be unable to do much about the trend towards OTT and non-linear viewing and may need to consolidate in a few years’ time. “There is a trend and an increase in non-linear consumption, but is it at the expense of linear consumption. We are not that scared that linear  is going to disappear. We see growth of subscribers and growth in our revenue in the coming years,” he said.

Georgiev said that the CEE region is more conservative about changing viewing habits and less able and willing to spend a lot of money on additional services. Telekom Austria typically bundles satellite TV with broadband and mobile services, including mobile broadband, and TV is seen as a way to provide a full service rather than a huge revenue generator in its own right.

Apolotolos Triantafyllou, SVP of sales for DACH, CEE, Israel, Caucuasus and Central Asia, Eutelsat said that satellite still had a role to play “because there isn’t enough money to build terrestrial networks – it’s as simple as that”.

Operators nevertheless admitted that growth is declining.

Tryantafyllou said that markets are maturing and growth is slowing. However,  he  said there is also “nothing to prevent us distributing OTT. Eutelsat is trying hard to come up with an OTT over satellite solution. We think the industry should do the same. If broadband can be delivered via satellite, OTT is an opportunity rather than a problem.”

Eyal Altshuler, VP sales CEE, Spacecom said that growth was mostly coming from within existing customers rather than from new launches, with HD and now 4K providing additonal demand for capacity.

Lev Petukhov, head of web projects department at Russian satellite pay TV operator NTV+, said that satellite would remain at the core of NTV+’s business. He said that distributing content to a country like Russia had its challenges. He said that the operators could provide satellite services for summer homes and complement that with IP-delivered services in cities to apartment complexes.