A decade of progress

Chris Dziadul assesses TVN’s first 10 years

This week 10 years ago I was present at the launch party for the Polish national commercial station TVN in Warsaw. Held in a huge marquee that was being pounded by incessant rain, it was hardly the best of starts for a new entrant into what was already a competitive TV marketplace.

A decade on, however, TVN is not only firmly established but in many respects also the pacesetter in Polish broadcasting. Besides operating a national flagship station, it also has a portfolio of over a dozen, mostly thematic and TVN-branded channels, the latest of which – Religia.tv – should make its debut sometime this month.
Furthermore, TVN’s owner ITI Group also operates n, a new generation DTH platform that has pioneered the introduction of HDTV, VOD and PVR into Poland and carved out a niche for itself in a market dominated by the well-established services Cyfrowy Polsat and Cyfra+.

And what of the future? While TVN’s average audience share in the first nine months of this year was around 12 times greater than it was in 1997, it is difficult to see how this can be improved much further given the existing realities of the Polish market. Although the public broadcaster TVP is gradually losing viewers, neither it nor Zygmunt Solorz-Zak’s Polsat are heading for a serious slump in fortunes anytime soon. All, however, will no doubt be keeping a close eye on News Corp’s TV Puls, which plans to become a leading regional, and in due course national, player.

TVN will undoubtedly continue to launch more thematic channels into what is already a highly fragmented marketplace. It will nevertheless have its work cut out in emulating the success of news-based TVN24, which commanded a national audience share of 3.6% in September this year – head and shoulders above second and third placed Mini Mini and Eurosport (0.76% and 0.52% respectively), and over a third of the combined share of 10.51% claimed by the top 20 thematic channels in Poland.

TVN certainly achieved a considerable amount in its first 10 years of existence. To maintain its progress over the next 10, it will have to continue doing what it is undoubtedly best at – innovation, in the face of strong competition.