How well is Netflix doing in Central and Eastern Europe?
It’s now just over a year since the SVOD service launched in the region as part of its major global expansion. While there are few indications as to its actual take-up, a number of key developments point to a promising future, at least in some of the larger markets.
The first was the introduction of localisation, alongside securing a local partner – in this instance T-Mobile– in Poland last September. This was followed the next month by an agreement with Vodafone Romania that allowed the latter to enter the country’s TV market by launching a service that includes Netflix.
As the year was drawing to a close, it was reported that Netflix was working with several dubbing studios with a view to introducing localised content in Ukraine. More recently, it began to add local language subtitles to some of its content being shown in Croatia.
Last September Netflix also entered into a partnership with Liberty Global. As a result, the service will be introduced on the latter’s networks in all the CEE markets the cable operator is present in, most probably this year.
While Netflix is slowly but surely making headway in the region, some markets are undoubtedly proving more difficult than others. Russia, where new rules governing OTT services are shortly due to come into effect, is a good case in point.
To succeed in these markets, and indeed the region as a whole, Netflix will have to embrace localisation in its many forms. Besides dubbing and/or subtitling content, this will mean charging in local currency (something it has already started to do, initially in Poland) and starting to make local productions.
However, CEE is unlikely to be particular high up on Netflix’s list of priorities, with its focus now very much on larger and more lucrative territories outside the US.