Chris Dziadul Reports: The Polsat way

When it comes to success stories, they don’t come much bigger than Poland’s Polsat.

Launched 20 years ago as one of CEE’s first national commercial broadcasters – it originally had to operate as a satellite-delivered service, based in the Netherlands, in order to comply with Polish regulations – the company now finds itself part of Cyfrowy Polsat.

The latter, of course, is the operator of the DTH platform of the same name. Launched, like Polsat itself, in the 1990s by the local entrepreneur Zygmunt Solorz-Zak and initially a ‘cheap and cheerful’ service, it has in the last few years undergone a remarkable transformation and is today not only the fourth largest satellite TV operation in Europe but – dare we say it, like such services as the UK’s Sky – something of an agenda setter.

If we look at Cyfrowy Polsat’s latest set of results we see that while its subscriber figure of nearly 3.56 million at the end of Q3 was only slightly up on the same period last year, it was still around one million more than the combined total of its closest rivals Cyfra+ and n, which should, following months of expectation, finally merge early next year.

However, Cyfrowy Polsat has also become a leading provider of both broadband internet and mobile telephony services, claiming over 100,000 subscribers for each as of the end of September. In the former instance, employing LTE-based technology, it now offers access speeds of up to 150 Mbps.

What is more, the company recently launched a mobile TV service employing DVB-T infrastructure. It will, no doubt, grow in popularity as Poland moves to ASO, scheduled for July next year.

On the content side, Cyfrowy Polsat has a growing portfolio of thematic services alongside its flagship Polsat, some of which are in HD. Following the publication of the latest set of results,
Dominik Libicki, the company’s president, said that more channels are in the pipeline, with one, jointly produced with a partner, likely to make its debut before the end of the year.

Cyfrowy Polsat, as indeed its daughter – formerly parent – company Polsat both clearly play a crucial role in Poland’s TV industry. Despite facing strong competition, this is likely to remain the case for a long time to come.