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Pay TV Subs Dropping in Eastern Europe, But OTT Isn't the Cause
Many households in Eastern Europe still get channels through analog pay TV, but that will largely be supplanted by digital in the next five years.

As in much of the developed world, the number of pay TV subscriptions in Eastern Europe is dropping: Digital TV Research studied 22 countries in that region and found that pay TV subs will drop in 10 of them between 2017 and 2023. Revenues for pay TV in Eastern Europe peaked in 2017 at $6.5 billion. That number will fall to $6.3 billion by 2023.

In Western countries, pay TV declines are largely due to competition from over-the-top services, but the landscape in Eastern Europe is far different. There, many people still rely on analog pay TV, which often provides little more than standard free-to-air (FTA) channels, and which may be provided as part of a tenant's rent. The big shift taking place in Eastern Europe is that households are converting to digital pay TV services, although the size of the market is falling slightly due to declining populations, troubled economies, and some households switching to FTA digital terrestrial television (DTT) instead.

Digital pay TV subscribers in Eastern Europe grew from 25.5 million in 2010 to 61.6 million in 2017. Digital TV Research predicts the number will reach 78.1 million in 2023, at which time few households will still have analog pay TV. Holdouts often don’t want to switch because of the higher cost of digital.

Cord-cutting isn't much of a factor in Eastern Europe, except for Russia and Poland. "Ivi+ is the largest SVOD platform in Russia, followed by Okko, Amediateka, and Megogo," says Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research. "In Poland, Netflix is big, as are Showmax, HBO Go, Player, and IPLA."

The 22 countries examined by Digital TV Research are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. For more data, Eastern Europe Pay TV Forecasts is available for sale online.

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