At the end March 2014, the conclusions of a survey on the rating, availability and substitutability of five specialised-content international television channels in Latvia have been published. 

This survey which was conducted by ResearchCube in the second half of January, was commissioned by the Competition Council of Latvia (CC) to gather information in the framework of investigating an alleged abuse of dominant position involving issues of substitutability of television programmes from the perspective of TV viewers. Since television programmes are offered in packages which are set by operators, viewers cannot freely select programmes of their own choice. 

The survey provides information on whether competition among the five specialised television channels (Eurosport, Eurosport2, Discovery, Animal Planet and TLC) is within the genre (i.e. within the same product category) or covers different genres. It also examines the advantages for viewers to choose specific TV operators and possible actions by viewers when particular programmes are not available. In addition, it provides information on the habits of consumers and the criteria they use when selecting a TV operator, as well as on the advantages linked to the different operators.

The survey studies a sampling of 1020 inhabitants of Latvia (ages 18-74) and shows that 44% of respondents are price sensitive when choosing a TV operator. The price is of greater importance for those with lower incomes (monthly family income below € 570) and senior viewers in the 61-74 age group.

Approximately one-third of the respondents (with monthly family income above € 850) and young people in the 18-25 age group indicate the composition of television packages as the main criterion when choosing a television operator.

The selection of a television operator in Latvia also depends on the region where the viewer lives. Approximately 11% of all respondents claim their television operator is the only one accessible to them. For example, in Riga, this is a criterion for 8% of respondents, whereas in one region – Latgale – 18% of viewers claim their operator is the only one available.

For viewers of the five specialised channels investigated, the composition of the package is more important than for other viewers, when it comes to choosing their television operator. Among the investigated channels, viewers name Eurosport, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet popular. The channels with the highest ratings are Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. 38% of the respondents say these programmes offer content that other programmes do not. These programmes are available to two-thirds of viewers. The least popular of the investigated channels is TLC, which is accessible to approximately one-third of viewers.

Most viewers state that the investigated channels cannot be replaced with others, although only one-quarter of viewers would consider changing operator if these channels became unavailable. A higher percentage – 31% of viewers – would consider changing operator if Eurosport2 became inaccessible.