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Netflix changes the Greek TV market

27 January 2016 / 18:01:51  GRReporter
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Over the past six years and in the midst of the economic crisis, the advent of pay TV in Greece has increased significantly from 11% to 24% of households. Today, every fourth household pays for some of the platforms offered by the television service providers and the total number of subscribers exceeds 1,000,000. One of the main reasons is outdated TV channels that are not able to invest in an attractive content.

US Netflix entering Greece, which offers Internet TV services (series and films) and the "invasion" of the Greek telecommunications company OTE through new channels such as OTE History and services to subscribers (from 1 February) is making the competition even more fierce.

Based on the latest data at the end of 2015 OTE TV subscribers increased to 446,000 and Forthnet announced, together with the results for the first nine months of the year, that the number of subscribers to Nova at the end of September amounted to 505,344 compared to 504,441 at the end of September 2014. It is noted that OTE’s management avoids announcing details on ΟTE TV investments and revenues, repeating that they "are part of the investment plans of the group."

It is clear that the battle is just beginning for another reason, namely that Nova has proved to be more resilient than some of its competitors had forecasted. The number of subscribers to OTE TV is increasing without a serious impact on the competitive platform, probably because a large number of Greeks prefer to keep their previous subscription and add a new one to it. However, as OTE head Michalis Tsamaz warned last week, today's pace of development of pay TV in Greece will not continue much longer. The market is becoming more mature, having already taken advantage of those customers who have invested in another subscription, mainly because of the sports content offered by OTE TV and Nova.

Vodafone and Cyta Greece offer subscription television too but only via the Internet. Vodafone in particular may seem "modest" in Greece, but today the company is the third largest "player" in the field of pay TV in Western Europe, after Liberty Global and Sky Europe.

According to the latest survey of Digital TV Research, the mobile operator will hold the third place until 2020, mainly because of its powerful presence in Germany, Spain and Portugal. Today’s offers of Vodafone (5 euro per month for 12 months) and Cyta (6 euro per month) in Greece are quite far away from those of the two satellite platforms (ΟΤΕ TV, Nova), both in terms of sports content and in terms of entertainment (films, serials, etc.).

Now everyone is trying to understand the consequences for the Greek market due to the penetration of the US Netflix, which offers series and films for a monthly fee starting from under 8 euro. Michael Tsamaz said last week that the platform Netflix (known for the distribution of the hit series House of Cards and other productions of its own) is working as an addition to OΤΕ TV.

Senior Forthnet officials expressed the same opinion, believing that "Netflix could even be favourable to the pay TV market in Greece, as it will help promote the culture of subscription television, i.e. for a person to pay to watch something worthwhile, and will contribute towards further opening that market."

Moreover, international experience has shown that Netflix has not restricted the existing subscription platforms in the market penetrated by it. It is a service complementary to pay TV as it lags behind in terms of content. Moreover, in Greece it will offer even more limited content than that available in other countries due to television rights.

Danish Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, who is known for her firm position regarding mergers of telecom groups (despite pressure from former monopolies for a greater market concentration), again "struck a blow" last week. She urged Brussels to hear out the five largest US film studios and the British Sky (which dominates the pay TV market in Europe). The European Commission believes that the contracts with Sky for films broadcasting infringe the EU regulations on competition.

Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount (of Viacom group), Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros (of Time Warner group) are "invited" to Brussels together with Sky, 39% of which is controlled by 21st Century Fox.

The companies are threatened with hefty fines, as Margrethe Vestager has argued since summer that the European customers want to watch their pay TV no matter in which European country they are travelling. For example, if a subscriber to the Greek platform is in France, he cannot watch on his laptop or tablet the TV series for which he is paying.

Today the complicated agreements on the rights concluded between the studios and television networks have created markets that are broadcasting television content at many speeds.

The European Commission services have set as a priority the creation of a single digital market in the European Union and believe that if the "digital borders" (such as television rights) fell then the use of digital content in Europe could rise by nearly 18 billion euro.

Tags: Pay TVSubscription platformsNetflixΟTE TV
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