NEM Day 2: New trends for the Croatian Pay TV market

BBC Studios, AMC and Croatian Telecom were some of the companies that have offered their opinion about the main trends in the Pay TV sector as well as its correspondence with CEE trends.


Pay TV panel


The Pay-TV sector was central on the second day of NEM Dubrovnik. Zbigniew Pruski, Commercial Director, Central & Eastern Europe, BBC Studios; Levente Málnay, EVP, AMC Networks International; Richard John Brešković, Director of Marketing, Croatian Telecom; Slawomir Cyra, Director of Programming and Cyfrowy Polsat S.A. Dobromira Marincheva, CCO, Bulsatcom, had participated in a panel when they compared the global trends in the sector with those of the CEE region.

They have shared experiences about the Pay TV markets in Central Europe and have discussed how Streamers has changed its business model. The panelists have agreed that the Pay TV market in the region is strong, and they have to seal alliances with streaming services and offer the best-packaged content for their clients. "Local content is significant, but for BBC, the quality is even more relevant," said Zbigniew Pruski. "We are focused on the best shows. We produce content and invest in IP's and how people consume the content is secondary for us", he added. "Pay-TV is strong in Central Europe, and we believe it will remain the main window where people will consume content," he affirmed

Peter Wassong and Dobromira Marincheva asserted that their companies, Telecom Croatia and Bulsatcom from Bulgaria, share the same digital platforms strategy; they seal alliances with them. For example, Bulsatcom closed a deal with HBO Max. "We are trying to appeal to new partners to the Bulgarian market," Marincheva. "International groups have to invest in local content, and local streaming platforms are becoming more relevant nowadays," added Wassong.

On the other hand, Levente Málnay, EVP/MD, AMC Networks International Central & Northern Europe, revealed that AMC+ will be launched next year in Central Europe. "We want to cooperate with distributors, and we can not compete with the streaming platforms; we have to offer something different," he stood out.

Free-to-air television in the CEE region continues to be essential for audiences in the moment of crisis. That has been proved with the excellent covert air channels made during the Covid pandemic or Ukraine war. Grégoire Polad, Director General, Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe asserted that the Association has asked its members to share accurate data about the pandemic whereas Natalija Gorščak, Vice-chair, EBU TV Committee said public service media has played a substantial role in the Covid crisis and that Commercial television has to be taking into account. “ It has to be a co-living between public media services and also commercial channels. Covid was a huge test for every media, and we can learn from it. Our role is not to take a side; it shows all the information and all the sides.”

Elsewhere, Robert Šveb, General Director, Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), affirmed that Free air channels are not allowed to take sides in a global crisis but recognized that they support Ukraine in the current Ukrainian war because Croatia lived a war not so many years ago. "Looking at what is happening in Ukraine, it's simple for us to take the Ukrainian side." On the other hand, BBC World News Presenter Kasia Madera provided an overview of the importance of real news today. “BBC has the role of informing, educating, and entertaining at the same time. We tell stories that engage audiences, she asserted. "We have to be impartial, independent, and trustworthy. We don't deliver news without a double-check,” she added.
The FTAs were also protagonists in another panel called “Are FTAs Still the Best Way To Reach a Mass Audience?”. Jan Rudovský, Director of Content Acquisition and Sales, FTV Prima; Kateryna Edelshtein, SVP East Europe Area Leader, Nielsen; Hartwig Rademacher, Vice President, National Sales and Content Management & Senior Project Manager Business Development, RTL Germany; and Matej Lončarić, Director of Video Operations and Media Brands, JoomBoos & miss7 have answered that question.

Jan Rudovský confirmed that FTA broadcasters would be part of the future because they allow the development of a story over a long period, which is one of the advantages of this market. In the same panel, Kateryna Edelshtein asserted that FTAs are still strong in Easter Europe and continue to be essential to reach mass audiences, "but nowadays, users spend less time in front of the TV, they are consuming streaming services or others kind of entertainment, so we need to build a loyal audience with different strategies. FTA is powerful in the familiar co-viewing, but in younger audiences, the trend is different; everybody wants to watch custom content in the window that they want."

Elsewhere, Hartwig Rademacher said we are experiencing a disruption in the market, but the video consumption is growing, which is good news. "So we have launched a streaming App that is very successful." Matej Lončarić confirmed that JoomBoos' teen shows perform very well in the Eastern and Central Europe, and "we believe people in Croatia are ready to pay for our premium content."

Moderate by Maria Rua Aguete from Omdia, Adam Zeman, Sales Manager CEE Region, Media & Telecom, Kaltura; Diana Buddingh, Director Global Content and Productions, ITV Studios, Global Entertainment; Michael Iskas, Chief Executive Officer, Antenna Studios, Antenna Group and have discussed ways to monetize content in today’s media world.

Adam Zeman spoke about the subscriber's fatigue and affirmed that it is not the best thing in the current landscape, but "for me, it means that the market is maturing."

Diana Buddingh has referred to the non-scripted ITV shows that had an outstanding performance during the pandemic and is currently aired worldwide. "You have to have new fresh elements in your content to remain fresh and compete in the current market, and you need to be flexible because each culture has its own way of presenting the shows and also building a brand is very important,"

Michael Iskas said, "as creator and producer, we are not competing against other channels. We are competing against users' distractions, like time on social. There are many reasons why users don't watch our content," he stated.

Beta Film, a leading European independent film & television group, hosted the second night of NEM Dubrovnik. Well-known for premiering the most exciting new series, NEM Dubrovnik 2022 brought the new Ukrainian period drama “Cardamom Coffee,” based on a bestselling book by Natalia Hurnytska.

Veronika Kovacova (EVP International Sales & Acquisitions Eastern Europe and Turkey, Beta Film) introduced it to the audience along with Asia Bataieva (Head of International Sales and Co-Productions, StarLight Media Group) and the leading actress and producer of the series, Olena Lavrenyuk: “I’m thrilled that the world will be able to see how beautiful our culture is with the help of this series.” When asked how the Ukrainian premiere was received, Bataieva shared: “The premiere was great; we reached out to 7.4 million people, especially the first and last episodes, which were emotionally intense.”                                                                                                                                                     

By Romina Rodriguez from Croatia