Territory report: Hungary

Hungary catching on to cable

BUDAPEST — A year ago the primacy of Hungary’s two commercial terrestrial networks, RTL Klub (majority owned by RTL Group) and TV2 (majority owned by SBS), appeared unchallenged. Cable existed on the fringes of the industry and brave attempts by nonterrestrial networks like U.S.-controlled TV3 (operated by Ron Lauder’s Central European Media Associates) to break into general entertainment programming failed.

TV3 went bust trying to turn cable into a medium with the appeal and might of a terrestrial net, and after its collapse the industry resolved that cable could only exist in Hungary as a niche programming vehicle.

Now, however, Hungary has a full roster of cable niche channels (movie net HBO, soap net Romantica, sports, music and kids channels), and the nation’s cable biz seems to be breaking out of its narrow-focus corner.

One of cable’s biggest coups came earlier this year when Hungary’s Viasat 3, owned by Sweden’s Modern Times Group, was able to lure away auds from terrestrial networks with local reality series “The Bar,” which scored an unheard of 12.6% share during its peak. It put Viasat on the map.

But despite the success of reality shows, the nation’s general entertainment commercial nets are returning to basics. According to Tibor Forizs, RTL Klub’s acquisition manager, the network’s emphasis is on feature films, one-hour series and dramas.

“Schedules now will be more balanced,” says Cecilia Hazai, head of distribution company Twin Media. “TV channels will be more discriminating and they’ll want to broadcast a bit of everything.”

TV homes:3.8 million

Cable homes:1.8 million

Satellite homes:2.3 million

Local programming:30%

Top show:Argentinian soap “Wild Angel” on TV2 (44% share)

Source: AGB Hungary

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