Liberty’s recently announced global network partnership with Netflix can only be good news for UPC customers in Central and Eastern Europe.
Starting next year, they will be able to access the SVOD service via the Horizon box, very much like subscribers to Virgin Media in the UK have through TiVo since 2013.
The move is a major breakthrough for Netflix, which will now have direct access to cable subscribers in no fewer than five CEE markets – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.
Since its launch at the beginning of this year, it has failed to make significant inroads in the region. However, this may soon change in at least Poland, where it has begun to charge in the local currency and will localise its programming.
While such moves would undoubtedly also be welcome in the four other markets, the fact that it will now be more accessible will certainly improve its prospects.
CEE is important to Netflix and even more so to Liberty Global. The latter was made clear by Mike Fries in comments made to the media in a press event in Amsterdam earlier this week.
Quoted by the Romanian publication Ziarul Financiar, Fries said that despite the tough business climate, Liberty’s improved performance motivates it to continue operating in the region.
In terms of numbers, its five CEE operations generate total revenues of over €1 billion and a profit of €400 million.
Speaking specifically about Romania, Fries added that the same services as those offered in the Netherlands are provided to UPC subscribers, using similar technology, at prices that are 75% lower. The contrast with the US is even more stark, with Romanian customers paying between €4-6 a month for what their American counterparts would be charged $160.
It will be interesting to see how many will be willing add the cost of Netflix to their monthly bill.