Report: Digital TV's future a real Bloc party

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LONDON -- Territories such as Latvia and Slovakia are full of Eastern European promise for investors looking for the next good prospect for digital television, according to a report published Monday.

Emerging territories across Eastern Europe are set to experience exponential growth in the adoption of digital television services, says the report from U.K.-based research specialist Informa Telecoms & Media.

The report predicts that the number of digital homes across Eastern Europe -- spanning Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and beyond -- will hit 34.8 million by 2012, up from just 8 million households today.

"Several countries are becoming increasingly visible on the radar of international TV investors, and I expect to see several major acquisitions and consolidations over the next few years," said Informa media research chief Adam Thomas, who penned the report. "While high-profile markets such as Poland and the Czech Republic continue to exhibit impressive progress, other countries such as Latvia and Slovakia are also now catching the eye."

The digital growth will be led by the takeup of digital satellite, with cable making slower progress toward digital conversion, the report predicts.

The need to compete with IPTV and cable consolidation in such territories as the Czech Republic and Bulgaria will help drive cable conversion levels, the report states.

"With several recent launches and others in the pipeline, IPTV is starting to emerge as a credible alternative platform in some countries. Russia leads the way in terms of IPTV subscribers, though services in places such as Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia are also making progress," Thomas said.

Russia will become the region's digital leader over the next five years. At present, it lags behind Poland in terms of digital TV subscriber numbers but is expected to claim first place during 2010.
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