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Eastern Europe Creates New IPTV Upside

According to the latest market study by Informa, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe continue to offer a range of attractive opportunities for international TV players and investors.

This already positive environment will only improve, with a period of extensive merger and acquisition activity expected over the next few years. The number of digital households in the region is expected to expand quickly over the next five years.

Eastern Europe ended 2007 with 21.6 million digital homes. That number is expected to rise by 31 percent in 2008, to 28.6 million, but be more than three times bigger by end-2013. The region is expected to reach 70.1 million digital households by 2013.

Digital satellite leads the way, with cable having initially made slower progress towards digital conversion. But with IPTV making some inroads in the region, there is evidence of cable now looking to upgrade with greater urgency.

UPC is upgrading on a region-wide basis and has recently turned its attention to converting its biggest markets of Poland and Hungary.

With numerous launches already under way and others due shortly, IPTV is starting to emerge as a realistic alternative platform in some countries. Russia leads the region in terms of IPTV subscribers, although services such as O2 TV (Czech Republic), Elion (Estonia) and TPSA (Poland) are also making progress.

While IPTV is showing encouraging signs, DTH is already thriving and has the potential to make a serious dent in cable's TV dominance.

Satellite benefits from its perception as a premium TV service -- giving it an advantage over the often fragmented cable sector, which finds it difficult to shake off its historic connotation as a low-cost utility service.

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