Unlimited communication

Living Rooms are Becoming New Entertainment Hubs

March 2023 Business

Jan Tomše


The United Group, the region's leading provider of TV content and digital solutions in the Western Balkans.

The days of going home early for a favourite series or a much-anticipated film are well and truly behind us. Today’s pace of life dictates many different user needs and high and demanding expectations that are constantly growing. We can have access to digital services virtually anytime and anywhere, and the same applies to our TV-watching habits.

The figures speak for themselves – more than 5 billion people or twothirds of the world’s population use mobile phones, and the number of internet users is of similar dimensions. In quantitative terms, this translates into almost 7 hours a day or 40% of our waking time spent on the internet or mobiles. Television has almost 5.5 billion viewers worldwide, with users spending almost 2 hours a day on linear TV and almost an hour and a half on TV streaming content.

In the Balkans, the United Group has taken the lead in meeting the needs and expectations of the region’s inhabitants. Here, the TV and digital solution provider’s comparative advantage is advanced digitalisation. After being the first in the region to launch digital TV non-linear features such as rewind, fast-forward and the basics of video-on-demand, they have now gone a step further by improving the user experience, explains Ditka Maučec, Product Director at United Group.

To do this, we needed a significant amount of know-how, experience and flexibility, and of course a platform that could be customised. We developed EON, a smart and advanced platform that has delivered a unique user experience from the very beginning, and offers not only live TV viewing, but also the indispensable non-linear way of watching TV content anytime and anywhere – on users’ mobile phones, tablets, and computers, without plugging in a to set-top box. Hence, EON offers the ultimate experience, allowing users to enjoy their content in the best way possible.’

The living room as an entertainment hub

With the EON platform, the way we watch TV has changed dramatically, living rooms have suddenly become entertainment hubs. Users can watch their favourite content for up to seven days after being broadcast. The EON platform also allows them to scroll through the timeline with images, making delayed viewing even easier. The platform offers a substantial video club with more than 24,500 content titles and, at no extra cost, films and series for even the most demanding users. EON also offers a range of advanced and useful functions, such as special profiles for family members for example, EON Kids which is a safe environment for children, and EON Connect provides secure home internet control, as well as numerous apps and games, all in one place.

Photo: Unsplash

40% of views are via time-shift

One of the key characteristics of today’s users is that they want to manage their own time. They no longer just watch TV on their TV sets, but increasingly on their mobile phones, tablets and computers. ‘Our average user has 2.5 devices activated to watch TV and 40% of viewing time happens via time-shift and video-on demand. On mobile devices, this percentage rises to more than 60%’, says United Group’s Product Director.

The TV schemes include a wide range of local TV programmes, many of which are synchronised or subtitled. ‘Users can search for content and operate their TVs in their native language without the need for a smart TV, as these solutions are already part of the package we offer today. The EON Smart Box turns any TV into a smart TV and gives you access to the world of the internet,’ says Maučec. ‘The United Group has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. They have doubled the number of subscribers in eight Western Balkans countries and positioned themselves as the number one regional provider. They offer premium TV and digital content in the local languages, apart from English, with local channels and localised applications included in every single market where they are present.’ Explains Maučec.

“2023 will be a challenging year because we will face inflation, cost increases and the energy crisis, but on the other hand, it will be a year of opportunity to further consolidate markets and focus on services and support for business customers.”

Trend setters

In the digital world, everyone is in competition with everyone else, and it’s important to understand that, no matter what industry you’re in. In the digital world, your competition is Amazon, Uber and other digital platform providers. How is the United Group coping with this?

The company’s vision for its premium EON solution is to become an indispensable partner for all generations of South East European consumers, providing them with a superior TV experience. ‘The interface is virtually all-inone. It’s modern and intuitive, and with the help of the advanced algorithms we use, we can give our users recommendations on exactly what they like best. We are highly competitive with all the global players in this area and we are continually developing better and better products.’ says Maučec.

The company’s main pillar is its development centre, United Cloud. It is the leading innovation centre in the region. The centre develops digital services in the telecommunications, media and TV industries, as well as integrated solutions for products of the future. The plan for the centre is to eventually offer innovations that others will follow and drive trends in user experience across the region.

Leader in the competitive mobile market

Mobile telephony is an integral part of the digitalisation ecosystem. Telemach is a mobile operator under the umbrella of the United Group, and it has been the fastest-growing mobile operator in Slovenia for many years. However, Maučec remarks that the competition for users is challenging, as the Slovenian market is highly developed, similarly in Croatia and Greece where the company is also present. In Croatia, the basis of Telemach’s business is mobile telephony, and they offer upgraded packages, but they also have a strong focus on building the most technologically advanced fixed network offering high gigabyte speeds in order to offer the fastest internet speed to the largest possible population. At the same time, the integration of newly acquired companies NOVA and WIND is taking place in Greece, and they have just started offering fixed and mobile services there.

Mobile phone use has long ceased to be just about making calls. Today, communication is done through the use of data, via applications such as Viber, WhatsUp, Telegram and others. The same is the case with social media platforms that have become the chief information and amusement channels around the world. Users demand availability, everywhere and at any time, and they want seamless access to their favourite music, TV shows, and sports events. ‘We at United Group are aware of two things, firstly, the importance of reliable infrastructure, therefore we are constantly developing and investing in cutting-edge technologies, and secondly, that data transmission is of paramount importance for the needs of today’s users. We have been steadily increasing it in our packages at no extra cost. While the NAJVEČ package has been offering unlimited communication for some time, this year it has been joined by the ŠE VEČ package with unlimited data. Since the launch in 2015, all of our mobile packages have followed their original mission, which is based on unlimited or high data transfer, transparency, the inclusion of additional services and a seamless mobile network.’ says Maučec.

The United Group in Bulgaria was also the first to launch a brand new portfolio of mobile packages with unlimited data, differing only in internet speed. ‘Due to strong interest among users in Bulgaria we launched a similar package in Slovenia, and we were proven right as the users’ response was extraordinary,’ Maučeč explains.

Giving back as a fundamental principle

The United Group pursues the social and environmental goals and the economic aspects of sustainable business practices through various activities and projects. Through major investments in network infrastructure and digital education, they support social and economic development in markets that altogether encompass 40 million people, and actively reduce their environmental impact.

‘That’s why we joined the Science Based Target initiative. This enables us to effectively manage our environmental risks, reduce our emissions, set climate change policies and create different energy use and generation solutions. We are also committed to reducing CO2 emissions by around 60% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. For this reason, we are also transitioning to ‘clean’ energy,’ says Ditka Maučec.


This article was originally published in The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2023.
If you want a copy, please contact us at info@adriaticjournal.com.