Slovak transmission company Towercom is planning to launch a pay DTT service called Plustelka at the beginning of May 2013. The new service will offer up to twelve SD channels, including Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2, on top of eight free to air channels currently broadcasting on the country's multiplexes 1-3 and operated by Towercom. In addition to Eurosport, the operator also plans film and children's channels. Towercom won a tender for national DTT multiplex 4 at the end of 2012. The pay TV multiplex initially will cover about 80 per cent of the Slovak households.
In the first quarter 2013 pay TV penetration in Slovakia stood at about 55 per cent of homes. About 20 per cent of homes watch (free) DTT, and another 20 per cent free satellite TV. Since analogue switch-off, pay TV platforms have continued to grow as DTT homes upgrade. The launch of Plustelka should decrease the churn on the DTT platform as the homes with the free service now have an upgrade path on DTT. The service should also have a positive impact on the competition in the low-budget sector of the market, increasing the pressure on satellite and cable TV operators.
Although DTT launched in Slovakia in 2009 the country's three multiplexes only broadcast eight free channels. A key reason for this is that the terrestrial incumbent channels chose MPEG-2 compression using more capacity, despite the extra cost. The upside for the channels is that this limits space for new entrants that would compete for audience and advertising revenue. All of the eight free DTT channels belong to the three broadcasters, which used to be on analogue terrestrial platform: public STV, and private: JOJ TV and CME-owned Markiza.
Slovakia will join six other Central Eastern European countries with a pay DTT service: the three Baltic countries, Hungary, Macedonia, and Croatia (where recently Croatian Post launched evotv). Neighbouring Czech Republic is planning to launch on DTT a VOD service, CME-owned Voyo.