Ukraine’s largest cableco Volia is launching an over-the-top (OTT) internet content streaming service next week, available to customers who rent a decoder box for UAH20 (USD2.40) per month, connected via Volia’s cable network or third-party networks, allowing users to stream video from YouTube and another online video service oll.tv initially, and with more services to be added in due course. Volia has also entered into partnership agreements with several other operators to make its OTT service available outside its cable footprint. Volia has deployed the Minerva ITVFusion platform alongside top-end streaming technologies, Broadband TV News reports, adding that its new technology rollouts will support services over third-party broadband networks as well as enhanced services for existing cable subscribers. The first publicised cooperative agreement for expanding Volia’s new OTT service is with Datagroup, making the streaming service accessible for the latter’s fixed broadband subscribers in eleven cities initially (including Kharkiv, Zaporozhye, Krivoy Rog, Khmelnitsky, Sevastopol, Evpatoria, Nizhyn Neteshin and Starokonstantinov) from May 2013, a press release from Datagroup adds. Volia will handle licensing with content providers while Datagroup will connect users, configure customer premises equipment and deliver services over its network. Datagroup says that the initial cost of purchasing the set-top box equipment outright for its customers is UAH899. The press release adds that Datagroup’s residential triple-play brand Domashniy Telecom (‘Home Telecom’) now serves 276,700 subscribers in 68 cities, which as TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes, means that its consumer service footprint has been expanded by 20 cities since September 2012.
Volia’s plans for the second quarter of this year involve launching a hybrid IP set-top box to allow its existing cable customers to access all interactive services in addition to their regular digital cable TV channels. Volia had more than 1.8 million cable TV subscribers and around 530,000 cable broadband internet subscribers at end-2012, according to GlobalComms, with a cable presence expanded from 20 to 29 cities via a deal to acquire smaller operator Odek in October 2012 (with the enlarged group passing around 3.5 million households with its cable network).
Meanwhile, take-up for the first major OTT decoder box-based service available in the Ukrainian market, ‘Divan.TV’ (launched in 2011), has so far been ‘low’, reports Kommersant Ukraine. The newspaper quotes Divan.TV’s head, Andrei Kolodyuk, as saying that the total number of subscribers to the service has declined, although elsewhere he indicated that this could be reversed as the firm has agreed distribution deals with a wide range of broadband providers across the country. One such ISP, Ukraine’s second largest cable TV group Triolan, began marketing the Divan.TV service to its 200,000-plus cable internet customers in December 2012 but has only attracted a tiny handful of takers to date, which the cableco’s CEO Vadim Sidorenko attributed to the notion that ‘Ukrainian people are quite conservative’, making it ‘not easy’ to introduce innovative services, although it is worth noting that another inhibiter to take-up could be the fact that Triolan’s internet subscriber base has been falling. According to its website Divan.TV offers more than 130 TV channels and more than 5,000 on-demand films, available to users with a 5Mbps-plus fixed internet connection via the purchase of a Divan.TV media player or alternatively via a Smart TV manufactured by LG (with other models coming onto the market in due course).