Digital TV to overhaul analogue in Eastern Europe this year

Despite many countries in Eastern Europe being in the grip of recession, 2012 is expected to be a watershed year for the region’s TV industry, as the number of digital homes is predicted to exceed the analogue total for the first time, according to a new report from UK firm Digital TV Research.

“The recession has had an impact on the TV sector,” said Simon Murray, author of the report. “Compared with our previous report [published in April 2011], we have noted several delays to digital terrestrial rollouts. Even though some governments have either brought forward or confirmed their original analogue terrestrial switch-off plans, many do not believe that all of these deadlines will be met. In addition, we have also seen slower take-up of double-play and triple-play bundles.”

He added: “It is good news for pay-TV operators that many Eastern European countries have been slow to implement analogue terrestrial switchover. This favours pay-TV operators as it gives them more time to convert homes to their packages before FTA DTT becomes established. Poland and Romania are prime examples of this.”

The report forecasts that the number of homes in Eastern Europe receiving digital TV services will nearly double between 2012 and 2017, brining the total to 112mn. Ten of the 15 countries covered by the report are expected to be completely digital by 2017, with Estonia the first to full conversion (in 2012). Russia is expected to add more than 26mn digital TV homes over the next five years, while the Ukraine will increase its total by more than 10mn.

There is expected to be a significant increase in the proportion of TV households taking pay-TV services over the forecast period, rising from 47% at the end of 2011 to 61% by 2017. This translates to the addition of 18mn pay-TV households in the region, reaching a total of 71mn. Pay TV revenues in Eastern Europe are expected to be 35% higher in 2017 (US$ 7.8bn) than in 2012 (US$ 5.78bn).

The total number of paying IPTV subscribers in the region is forecast to rise from 3.832mn in 2011 to 5.518mn in 2012, and go on to reach 11.209mn by 2017. IPTV services are predicted to generate revenues of US$ 1.275bn by 2017, compared to US$ 362mn in 2011 and US$ 582mn in 2012.

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