Pavel, you took the CEO post at TV2 Group in May. What convinced you to change France for Hungary?
My first TV job interview was in Budapest, for HBO, in 1994. Then I was with RTL Klub in 2003-2004. Hungary was always a leading place for the media development of our region in the last 30 years. After a great stint with the leading French TV group, TF1, I decided to go back East. When the TV2 opportunity appeared, I didn’t need much time to decide.
What are the new challenges for you at TV2? What will be some of the key points in your strategy?
In the last few years TV2 Group has significantly increased its market share. Today, the group’s portfolio is the leading in terms of viewership. My goal is to pursue its growth, especially concerning our main station, TV2, but will also focus on improving the group’s financial performance and finding new revenue streams. Digital and international are among them.
TV2 has successfully built a strong portfolio of channels but is the ad market big enough to provide for a healthy business?
Like in the rest of the world, the Hungarian broadcasters rely today not solely on the ad market. The distribution revenue is a key driver for the multichannel strategy. That will be complemented by other sources of income. But I am optimistic about the years ahead for TV advertising. The Hungarian economy is doing quite well. At the same time, worldwide we observe a return of the investments in TV and other traditional media after the internet „folly”: the reliability and transparency make the TV GRPs the unbeatable tool to reach the targeted audiences.
One of the main revenue streams for the two big commercial broadcasters in Hungary comes from pay TV fees. Are you planning to increase your rates? Do you expect tough negotiations with the providers?
TV2 Group’s channels represent today the highest value for every operator. In that respect we are aiming at a win-win and fair relationship. This is what I have been doing in the last decades, from my time at HBO through the TF1 Distribution carriage negotiations.
Where do you see potential for further growth of the group and what would you say are your advantages compared to RTL?
The first potential is with the further growth of our flagship channel, TV2, building on the success of our Spring season in which primetime shows like Exathlon Hungary and Raid the Cage outperformed our competitors. In that respect, we are fully focused on our Autumn grid. The Hungarian viewers know that TV2 is close to their hearts and will offer the best news and entertainment they love.
Is TV2 planning any acquisitions and in which segments?
Currently we are focused on growing our existing business and on increasing our profitability and cash flow generation. That will put TV2 Group in the good starting block when the right investment opportunities appear.
What will be the highlights in TV2’s schedule for the second half of the season?
Our biggest highlights will be Asia Express which will be on-air daily during one part of the Fall, it is returning with its second season. This time the contestants have to do their mission in Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. After the success of the sport reality Exatlon Hungary, we really believe in Fittest Family, while Game of Chefs is also coming back with its second season.
The departure of former CEO Dirk Gerkens has resulted in a change of the policy to work with one producer. Could you mention some of the companies you are partnering with and what will be their projects?
My ambition is to transform TV2 into the home for every talented Hungarian TV professional. So now that we opened the gate we will work with different production companies during the Fall season. That being said, IKO will remain our privileged house. Going forward, we won’t mind if IKO works also for other TV groups.
Last fall, TV2 tested a vertical model of scheduling which delivered mixed results. RTL also had a similar model in spring. Will you return to that model?
What I can see is that our Spring season worked quite well, which was not the case for the competition. As I said, we are currently fine-tuning our Autumn grid, but it would be stupid to radically change working scheduling models. We listen to our audiences.
It seems you are lagging behind RTL when it comes to the digital side of the business. Do you agree and what are your plans in this direction?
I am still a fresh comer and currently analyze the situation together with the TV2’s team. My recent experience in France where MYTF1 offers the most watched AVOD platform will certainly help.
You also operate a sports streaming service. Are Hungarians ready to pay for exclusive sports content?
As I said we are currently reviewing our online positioning and strategy, so I won’t exclude the SVOD model for the moment.
Game of Chefs
You follow closely the developments of the CEE markets. Which are some of the traits Hungary has in common with the other markets and what are the differences?
In commercial TV every market is different and specific. For several years on the Hungarian broadcasters were imposed German models of programming. But the market progressively evolved towards content that works in the rest of the region or even, in some South-European markets. Finally, the Hungarian audiences are shaping their own TV model.
Will you continue to rely on Turkish dramas and Latin telenovelas in your daytime schedule?
Tv2 is traditionally the home of the Latin and Turkish series. We achieved great success in this genre. This was the reason why a dedicated telenovela channel called Izaura was launched so our audience will see good series on our channels in the future too. ▪