Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Digital cable TV taking off??

Baltkom TV, the cable-TV, telecoms and ISP, reports nine month earnings jumped 87 % to LVL 1.5 million as sales rose 36 % to LVL 4.5 million. The reason for this, the company says, is a rise in the number of digital cable subscribers to almost 15 000 (up from some 10 000 in the summer, now comprising around 10 % of all subscribers). These figures make the jump in earnings unsurprising, because each digital cable subscriber generates LVL 10.50 or more per month (some, who want all 102 channels, can pay over LVL 12). This compares to an average LVL 3.00 that the Latvian cable TV association, now called the Latvian electronic communications somethingor other :) , says that the ordinary cable viewer, a pensioner whose preferred language is Russian, generally pays.
Those 100+ channels, however, include lots of narrow interest programming, such as the Wine Channel (in German?) and various Russian language programming aimed at sports fans, women, etc. There is also a channel in Korean, along with the standard selection, CNN, BBC, Discovery (language is switchable on digital cable)in all its incarnations, National Geographic, the Reality Channel, etc. Oh yes, the erotic stuff is mostly in English along the lines of oh God oh God f••k me harder... :) which comes across (no pun intended) without subtitles.
It looks like pay per view will be available soon, with recent release films, etc.
Baltkom also says that the number of triple play internet, digital cable and telephony customers is rising. The company is also competing to provide complete solutions to a number of new housing projects, claiming 100 Mbps optical internet to the home. Where do I sign up? I'll move to some former pasture in Marupe (a suburb south of Riga) for this.


mxz said...

Somehow our cable television 1.0 got old at one point. Broadband, syndicated newsfeeds, widespread film and TV show distribution all over the peer-to-peer networks, resource-shy local TV channels airing old X-files episodes over and over again and cheap "straight-to-the-video" movies - all that is just a big reason not to subscribe. And why would you? Besides the rare channels that are actually useful and interesting (CNN, BBC, Discovery), what is there to watch? A multilanguage version of the "wine channel"?

Content-on-demand is the answer. Streamed over network. The news, the talkshows, the features - all that you would get on demand and at a price. Want to see Lost in full surround sound at HDTV resolution? You would then subscribe to one of the major show channels like Fox TV or HBO or whatever. Want to see your favourite movie? Instead of waiting years for it to become cheap enough so that the local channel could afford it, you get it on DVD.

As a media consumer, I would like to be able to chose the programming I want to see and when I want to see it. Or I could schedule it's acquisition, so that when I get home and turn on my media center screen I would see a message saying that "The latest episode of Whatever is available now, would you like to watch it?". Combined with networking, messaging, video-conferencing, online gaming - you get the future of television. Only it's not television anymore.

Juris Kaža said...

What you need is a good broadband, on-demand IPTV service. We'll see what Lattelekom comes up with. I wouldn't get too excited yet.
Given a free choice, I would take from the menu -- BBC, CNN, Euronews, SkyChannel, History Channel, the Discoveries (in English), maybe an American network feed, Swedish TV (added bonus -- all films are with subtitles), a good film channel, maybe VH1 for music (I always ask the 20-somethings at work - "may I play classical music" and then put on Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix or may Carry On by CSN&Y. )

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