IP&TV News talks OTT and 2014 with Levente B. Malnay, CEO, Chello Central Europe.
IP&TV News: Hi there Levente. What was the greatest challenge and achievement for Chello Central Europe over 2013?
Levente B. Malnay: We launched two HD channel feeds, Sport 2 HD in the Czech Republic/Slovakia and Sport 2 HD Hungary. Besides our substantial investment in content development, CCE also invested in a state-of-the-art new Sport TV studio. We are working with the latest HD-technology the supporting iT infrastructure. This is a firm basis to help exploiting our long-term sports rights like UEFA Champions League, La Liga’s Spanish footbal, FA Cup, NFL, NBA, NHL, local football in Hungary or KHL – to name but a few exclusive sports rights that we own. Being the host broadcasters of Slovan Bratislava and Lev Prague in KHL I am super-proud of having been awarded “Broadcaster of the Year”title by the Kontinental Hockey League!
How much demand is there for next generation TV services in Central Europe at present – and how do you expect this to develop in the coming years?
We experience some phasing gap versus of Western Europe: next gen TV services show a relatively modest level of current usage. Central Europe is still ahead of a large HD-boom, CCE sees video-on-demand as a nice opportunity. Minimax and Megamax VOD has a proven business model. We are not able yet to communicate large subscriber numbers, as we are in the middle of educating our users/viewers/customers. We are concurrently successfully experimenting and continuously finetuning our TV Paprika app – developed for Android, iPhone and iPad – with over a thousand recipes, short videos and “shopping basket” to offer a useful and fun tool for our viewers who actually want to cook the dish they just saw being prepared by the local starchefs on the channel. Besides the Hungarian version we have recently launched the iOS, Android and iPad versions also in Romania, the Czech Republic and in Slovakia.
What is the role of a major distribution channel like Chellomedia in maximising the multiplatform OTT viewing experience?
I see it the other way around: OTT –or rather non-linear – helps maximise viewing experience of the content and brands of formerly solely linear channels. OTT at present is a ground to either tease our users to television content or make them enjoy content on multiple screens – even away from home, i.e. to offer the existing subscribers additional service.
How is OTT video impacting on the digital supply chain?
As long as “traditional” players – cable companies, satellite or IPTV platforms as well as television channels with relevant content and reliable brands – keep satisfying demands of their clients/customers/viewers at an acceptable price-value ratio, they will maintain their position to be the primary winners of exploiting growth opportunities of – eg – OTT development. On many markets this seems to be a safe bet. On some other markets – where it is not happening – or happening at too high cost for customers – there will be opportunities for new players, new models. At the end of the day good content will find its way to viewers.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2014 – what’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for Chello Central Europe?
I am sure there will be many such things, but let me highlight three. Firstly, it is becoming part of AMC Networks – at the end of 2013 AMC Networks acquired Chellomedia from Liberty Global. Our new owner is a content professional with an excellent creative and business track record. AMC Networks owns and operates popular, award-winning content and brands in cable television, and we see joinig AMC as a bouquet of opportunities for Chello’s next phase of growth in the upcoming years.
Secondly, more HD, more viewing experience: CCE is a market leader in offering HD channels to our distribution partners, and we are aiming to further broaden our high-definition offer.
Last but not least, our sports rights: long-term and exclusive sports rights will certainly determine 2014. We are proud to be exclusive partners of the UEFA Euro 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2018 European qualifying matches on Sport TV, in Hungary, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Adding to this, our existing partnership with La Liga, UEFA Champions League, KHL and the best of the Hungarian Football.
You’re appearing at TV Connect 2014 in March. What makes the event such an important date in the diary?
Being present at televisions’ leading event is a priority. Also, our focus for this year coincides with the main topic of the conference, which is innovations and multiplatform engagement. At CCE we are working to upgrade our rights for multiple platforms and devices, and constant innnovation is our way of life.