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Netflix Rolls into Poland as Russia Slams the Gate

Internet TV giants make slow progress in CEE market, but locally made content remains a rarity.

14 September 2017

Netflix’s announcement of its first original series in Poland signals a major inroad into Central and Eastern Europe – even as the company and its competitors make plans to exit Russia, the region’s biggest market.

 

The streaming service’s upcoming Polish series – an alternate history drama set in the time of Solidarity – will be co-directed by esteemed filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, who already has directed an HBO production in the Czech Republic and several episodes of Netflix’s money-spinning serial House of Cards, according to DigitalTVEurope.net.

 

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are driving the growth of subscription video-on-demand movies and original shows in the region, although subscriber numbers remain small compared to the huge North American market. Digital TV Research forecasts 3.5 million Netflix subscribers and 1.1 million paid users of Amazon’s service in the region by 2022, TVEurope.ws reports.

 

“These numbers may seem modest, but they will be accomplished without any subscribers in Russia,” Digital TV Research analyst Simon Murray said.

 

A new Russian regulation imposing a 20 percent foreign ownership limit on OTT platforms (standalone internet content not bundled with cable or satellite TV channels) will likely force Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to “abandon their stand-alone platforms” in Russia, Murray said, adding, “This is a major blow to their global ambitions.”

 

Netflix subscribers outside the United States now make up more than 50 percent of the worldwide total of 104 million, the California-headquartered company recently reported.

 

WarsawWarsaw

 

  • Last year the chief executive of the region’s largest broadcaster promised that traditional TV would hold its own against Netflix. Central Europe Media Enterprises (CME) CEO Christoph Mainusch said 90 percent of TV viewing in the region was still “linear” rather than on-demand and that total TV usage had gone up in the six countries CME operates in, according to Hollywood Reporter.

 

  • Relatively low costs and offerings of local content were enabling Central and Eastern European broadcasters to hold their own against the likes of Netflix, Mainusch said.

 

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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