AMSTERDAM -- IBC 2015 -- Telekom Austria and Eutelsat are set to extend their DTH platform into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in partnership with a local sevice provider called Antik Telekom.
The three companies have teamed up on the launch of a new DTH service that will include more than 90 channels, featuring local and international content, as well as an online archive service.
Billing the service as the "first smart DTH platform in the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Antik says it will carry out a soft launch on October 1 before expanding the offering in partnership with local distributors.
Besides the range of channels, the AntikSat-branded service will include a catch-up IPTV service for some 20 channels as well as a video-on-demand offering.
Antik Telekom already operates a fiber network in Slovakia, although its service covers as few as 150,000 households and claims just 55,000 customers.
Last year, the operator made about €9.8 million ($11.1 million) in gross income, 5.4% more than in 2013.
The DTH service will be deployed on direct2home, a white-label DTH platform developed by Telekom Austria Group , which rents capacity from Eutelsat to support the technology.
As part of the new arrangement, Telekom Austria will double the capacity it has leased on Eutelsat Communications S.A. 's 16A satellite from four to eight transponders.
"Though Telekom Austria and Antik we are able to enter the Czech and Slovak markets, where we've been absent for the past few years," said a Eutelsat spokesperson at this week's IBC show in Amsterdam, where details of the new service were unveiled.
"This shows that 16 degrees east is a great position for DTH in Central and Eastern Europe," added the spokesperson, referring to the location of the service.
Antik has indicated it will offer the new technology to existing subscribers at no additional cost and to new customers from as little as €1 ($1.13) per month.
The operator is clearly hoping to address demand among consumers unwilling or unable to spend heavily on more expensive pay-TV packages.
According to Telekom Austria's research, 70% of the 4.6 million TV households in the Czech Republic, and 45% of the 2.3 million in Slovakia, are currently using free-to-air, analog or low-ARPU DTH services.
Peter Blass, the business development director of Antik, says the DTH platform will allow his company to roll out TV services more rapidly than by relying on fixed-line technologies.
"Every year we cover 10,000 new households with fiber but we had to find a quicker way to offer services," says Peter Blass, the business development director of Antik.
Telekom Austria is also pitching the direct2home platform as a way for companies to address the growing demand for triple- and quad-play services in parts of Central and Eastern Europe.
The operator launched direct2home in 2013 but admits that getting the business model right has proven challenging.
"We had tough negotiations with some partners," says Stefan Amon, Telekom Austria's wholesale director. "We learned how the model could become successful with input from Eutelsat, and we're now seeing progress with other partners in the region as well."
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading