In many markets across Western Europe, pay-TV services have already reached saturation. That's why Eastern Europe is so attractive to video entertainment service providers. It's a huge upside opportunity.
The number of digital pay-TV subscribers will increase from 26.1 million (21.5 percent of TV households) in 2010 to 45.0 million (36.6 percent) in 2013 and eventually reach 73.6 million (58.2 percent) by 2020, according to the latest market study Digital TV Research.
As Eastern Europe recovers from the region's economic recession, the number of digital TV homes will triple between 2010 and 2020 -- that's up from 41.0 million to 124.7 million.
From the 52.3 million digital TV homes to be added between 2013 and 2020, DTT will supply 24.9 million, digital cable 15.3 million, IPTV 6.6 million and pay satellite TV 5.8 million.
Digital TV penetration crossed the halfway mark of TV households in 2012, up from a third at end-2010. Fast adoption will push digital TV penetration to two-thirds by end-2014 and onto 98.5 percent by 2020.
"For the purposes of this report, we have assumed that the situation in the Ukraine will be resolved quickly, with Russia withdrawing from the Crimea," said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.
The number of analog terrestrial TV households halved between 2010 and 2013 -- leaving 23.2 million households. Only 11.9 million DTT homes were added, therefore the digital pay TV platforms benefit from the analog terrestrial homes converting to digital.
However, 24.9 million DTT homes will be added between 2013 and 2020, with all of the remaining 23.2 million analog terrestrial homes lost, so pay TV operators will gain less from terrestrial TV.
With the proportion of terrestrial homes settling, much of the emphasis from pay TV players has fallen on the 27.5 million remaining analog cable subscribers. Many of these homes will upgrade to digital cable, but some will shift to IPTV and satellite TV.
However, many of the remaining analog cable subscribers don't want to pay more for TV services. As time goes on, the proportion of the remaining analog cable homes with this attitude increases. Free-to-air DTT (or even pay DTT) is an attractive option for these homes.
From the 83.6 million digital TV homes to be added across the region between 2010 and 2020, Russia will contribute 40.7 million, with the Ukraine increasing by 13.3 million and Poland 6.7 million.
Pay-TV revenues in Eastern Europe will be 48% higher in 2020 ($7,305 million) than in 2010 ($4,944 million). Digital cable and IPTV revenues will more than double between 2013 and 2020, but satellite TV revenues (the main earner) will only grow by 22 percent over the same period.
Russia will contribute $2.02 billion (28 percent) of the pay TV revenues in 2020 -- overtaking Poland in 2015. Russia will be responsible for nearly half of the region’s $1.1 billion additional pay TV revenues between 2013 and 2020.