In a Greek population of 11.2 million there is an average of two television sets per household, where 99.5 percent of these households watch ‘free-to-air’ TV. The number of television receivers owned by Greeks is estimated at 2.6 million.
With respect to satellite and digital television, three percent of households have a satellite connection and one percent has digital terrestrial TV. More specifically, NOVA is the only satellite subscription service today in Greece and claims over 350,000 subscribers. It was the first of its kind to provide satellite services in 1999. There are two digital television providers, the privately-owned NOVA (now owned by Forthnet) and the publicly-run ERT, which provides digital services through ERT Digital. In January 2006, ERT launched free-to-air digital terrestrial television with three pilot channels collectively branded as ERT Digital. There is no subscription fee on that service and the only requirement is a set-top box.
In terms of cable television, no such system is currently available in Greece. However, since 2006 some telecommunication companies have started offering service via IPTV. These companies are Vivodi Telecom, On Telecoms and, more recently in 2009, OTE through the launch of Conn-X. The first two companies (Vivodi and On Telecoms) merged in October 2009 with On Telecoms acquiring Vivodi and taking over the distribution of its products and services. Greek broadband provider Hellas On-Line also launched an IPTV platform called Hol TV and was the first provider in Greece to offer HDTV as well as video-on-demand. Following EU directives, Greece is obligated to switch from analog to digital broadcasting, a process which is underway and targeted for completion by 2015.
Since 2007, there has been substantial growth in broadband penetration which reached 15.9 percent of the population by September 2009 (amounting to 1.79 million connections, and holding the sixth position worldwide in broadband penetration increase). In the past year, Greece has exhibited the highest percentage of fast broadband connections (above 10 Mbps) among E.U. countries with 88 percent of the broadband connections in Greece having connection speeds higher than 10 Mbps. In 2010 broadband penetration in Greece marked another record increase among E.U. members with an increase of three percentage points, reaching a penetration level of 18.6 percent of the population. The fact that this number is far below the European average (26 percent) is paving the way for the continuation of this significant growth trend in the future.
Apart from OTE, the main service providers are Forthnet, Wind Tellas, Hellas-On-Line, and On Telecom (which also includes Vivodi). Also, it is noteworthy that mobile broadband growth has surpassed the 10 percent rate of total broadband connections via fixed line. The main stimulant for this explosion is increasing competition and decreasing mobile broadband connection prices. As such, further internet penetration and additional investment is expected in this area. OTE is already committed to WiMAX-based services in urban areas, with no fixed broadband infrastructure. Overall, with internet penetration on the rise, IT/Tel convergence and new broadband infrastructure, the road is paved for a new generation of content and application services. Telecoms providers will look for alliances and partnerships with IT vendors and content aggregators to offer complete solutions, establishing a good export opportunity for players in this arena.
Although this broadband trend is promising, telecommunications companies have faced a great challenge in 2010 as seen in the decline in their revenues stemming from the overall decline in mobile phone subscriptions due to the economic climate and new E.U. laws resulting in a 12.5 percent revenue decline among the 3 mobile operators.
Market Size (in consumer electronics supporting broadcast)
The new technologies and developments in the industry continued to positively impact the demand for new cutting-edge products which entered the market in 2010, although this was hampered due to the economic slowdown. The market dominance continues to be observed in specific hi-tech products which is related to technology developments and anticipated broadcasting capabilities, especially in the field of ‘high-definition’, which now impacts every device image category (reproduction, display, and recording).
High-definition is the main trend which developed the market for televisions (LCD and Plasma), camcorders (mostly subscription HDD hard drive and memory Flash) and media players and recorders (High Definition DVD and Blu Ray).
Specifically with respect to televisions, there has been a yearly average increase of 5.7 percent from 1994 to 2008, with replacement cycles of TVs falling to six years from 10 years in the 1990’s. Digital televisions were introduced in Greece in 2002 and for the first couple of years represented less than two percent of total television unit sales. After 2004, the year of the Athens Olympic Games and the Greek national soccer team’s victory in the European Championship, digital TV sales increased. The expectations are that high-definition technology will continue to be the driving force behind the growth of the market, especially since there is an E.U. directive for Greece to switch from analog to digital broadcasting by 2015.
The leader in electronic consumer sales for the year was the LCD flat-screen television which continued to dominate the market, followed by the Plasma (PDP) TV, and by the Blu-Ray players. Main drivers of this trend were the increasing demand for a larger screen size, for high-definition, and for the integrated receiver DVB-T.
In 2010, in the midst of the Greek economic crisis, the consumer electronic devices sales marked an 18 percent decline in sales and a 14 percent decline in revenues. The continued increased demand for new technology TVs has operated as a constraint for further decrease in the consumer electronics market. The new technology products (IT) exhibited a decline of 17 percent in sales and a 19 percent decline in revenues. The peripherals and IT accessories market demand declined by 13 percent in terms of sales and by 17 percent in revenue terms. The sales decline in telecommunications equipment was limited to two percent and to nine percent decline in terms of value.