The CSTB’2013 Exhibition and Forum which lasted from January 29 to 31at the Crocus Expo International Exhibition Center (IEC) have been a booster for the digital TV and communications business. This year both the above events have clearly displayed their place as a consolidated platform for launching new projects in the industry. The exhibition has also taken up more space, presentations were delivered within an expanded business agenda, and the national media have displayed more interest in the exhibition and the forum.
CSTB’2013 took place in three halls of Pavilion 1 at the Crocus Expo IEC. The exhibition had some 500 participants from 26 countries representing Russian and foreign TV channels, cable and satellite TV and IPTV operators, mobile multimedia service suppliers, producers and distributors of equipment for digital TV systems, system integrators, and Russian radio electronics producers. For the second year running, all mobile device owners had access to the exhibition’s mobile catalogue complete with a navigation system. In its three days, the exhibition was attended by 24,217 visitors.
Enjoying the official support of Russia’s Ministry of Communications, this event is a powerful engine for the telecommunications industry as a whole. This year the exhibition had a specialized display of Multiscreen & Smart TV for the first time, as the respective technologies had enjoyed a high profile in the preceding year. The discussion of new trends took up most of the CSTB’2013 Forum known for its scope due to a broad discourse on topical issues and also for its distinguished speakers.
The CSTB Forum traditionally opened its round table discussion on the most important issues of TV digitalization in Russia. Officials from the Ministry of Communications, the Russian Supervisory Committee, and the Russian TV and Radio Network, top managers of the leading pay-TV companies, and heads of respective associations in the industry provided information on how they were working to resolve numerous issues, spoke of their success in the preceding year, and presented their visions for the industry. The participants in the round table discussion decided by consensus that the final transition of channels to the HD format is only a question of time, though it’s very costly and technically very complex, and content production and delivery will be very expensive. “All things considered, today it is important to follow the market trends and understand how the market will react in the coming two to three years to the change in formats. Then we will need to make smart bets on those changes in a timely fashion,” said Yuri Pripachkin, the round table moderator and President of the Cable TV Association of Russia.
Today’s broadband Internet and digital (interactive) TV networks are going wireless and mobile – both on the last mile and last foot. The fact that the largest five Russian operators of the TV media market were present at the Mobile Multimedia Forum, which was inaugurated at CSTB ‘2013, made the presentations more topical and important. Wrapping up the Forum, Vitaly Shub, moderator of the Mobile Multimedia Forum and adviser to the President of TransTeleCom, noted that issues related to delivering multimedia content at a guaranteed quality level and with high representation and interactivity, were discussed by the participants on case studies from their own business experience, and this turned out to be of utmost interest for the audience. Watching TV in a mobile format was described in detail in a number of recent statistical materials. Mr Shub said he had no doubt that the event would not only become the first professional forum on these matters, but will also mark the beginning of regular meetings within the CSTB framework.
At the section on Increasing the Income of Cable and Satellite TV Operators, also moderated by Vitaly Sbub, the focus was on some trends that have become very important in the recent years on Russia’s TV media market – those of consolidation of broadband access and pay TV, which lead to more competition in the penetration of operators’ networks, in the muldimedia content they provide, in tariff plans, and servicing conditions. Mr Shub believes that the mutual penetration of access networks on the local markets creates competition that in many ways reminds one of that already existing on the cellular communications market. Technological development of the infrastructure and more focus by operators on diversifying the content and the service models bring in more sophisticated marketing devices used by service providers operating on the pay-TV market. Presentations by top managers and experts from leading operators and equipment producers gave the audience an all-round and detailed picture of the processes driving the development of the most “spectacular” sector of Russia’s TV market – that of pay- and interactive TV. Judging by the presentations, neither the pay TV-, nor the broadband markets are losing their internal drive: Their operations are gaining volume and becoming ever more attractive.
The growing number of high-quality content on the TV market, including HD content, calls for more satellite capacity. The industry’s response to new demand is obvious: The satellite resource will be growing, and Oleg Kolesnikov, Technical Director of NTV-PLUS and moderator of the section named The Development of Russian and Foreign Operators’ Satellite Constellations, confirmed this view. The above section also discussed additional offers and services to be provided by Russian and foreign satellite operators. Orbital satellites are not only used for direct TV broadcasting, but also to provide Internet access.
The IP&TV Forum was moderated by Alexey Grishin who heads the Development Section of the V-Lux >group. He said the Forum had managed to embrace the full scope of issues, i.e. STBs, marketing strategies, building an infrastructure, and to include a theoretical-cum-practical presentation on the HEVC codec.
In the words of Mikhail Shekhovtsov, Managing Director of Media Projects at J’son & Partners Consulting, who was moderator of the Smart TV: Products, Platforms, and Applications section, the participants in his section believed that the Smart TV market was maturing fast, which is mostly explained by the global trend of TV individualization. Today over 2 million TV sets with the Smart TV function have been bought in Russia. Analysts believe that the penetration of the Smart TV market will be over 25% by the end of 2015 and 50% by 2016-2017.
The TV Everywhere section. Multiscreen TV Solutions (connected TV, smartphones, tablets), moderated by Leonid Konik, Editor-in-Chief of the ComNews Group. He pointed out the following trends:
- HbbTV has indeed become a commercial technology.
- The 3D TV probable niche has been filled by Ultra HD.
- Video content is migrating to the Cloud.
- Minicomputers (STBs designed as flash drives) may become an alternative for the expensive Smart TV technology; these set top boxes are much cheaper and may add intellect to any unsophisticated TV set.
- The rate at which subscribers are replacing their TV sets has increased in the past year from 8.4 to 6.9 years.
“Legislation on TV and radio broadcasting is developing slower than needed,” said Elena Gultya;yeva, Adviser on Legal Matters of the Cable TV Association of Russia and moderator of the section called The Telecom and New Media Legislation. “Today, as several years ago, market players are faced with issues that have not been regulated well enough by laws on communication and the media. It may seem that topics discussed at numerous workshops and conferences on legal matters are repeating themselves, but in fact it is very useful to discuss legal issues related to the market participants, and do this on a regular basis. This is not only about the participants getting a chance to discuss everyday problems and find solutions jointly, but – most important – it’s about providing the regulator all the information on areas which create problems for the participants.”
Summing up the CSTB ‘2013 Forum, a new main trend was described by all the participants – that of the Internet’s growing influence on pay-TV operators. The format of the CSTB Forum and Exhibition brought together absolutely all the participants in the market, from content producers and broadcasters to communications and pay-TV operators of all broadcasting media. It is only through such joint work that it will be possible to develop the TV- and radio-broadcasting market further.
For more information on the CSTB’ 2013 Forum and Exhibition, see www.cstb.ru .