On demand services are becoming increasingly popular in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), with Poland currently the scene of major activity.
Among the leading cable operators, UPC launched its VOD service UPC na Zadanie in December 2009 with an offer that already included hundreds of hours of movies and TV series. It has since been enhanced considerably – most recently this week with the addition of content from Cartoon Network – and at the same time expanded in reach from just Warsaw to most large population centres served by the operator.
Vectra, the second largest player in the Polish cable market after UPC, meanwhile plans to launch an on demand service shortly that it says will have a back channel and focus more on the quality of content rather than the volume. Among other leading cable operators, INEA, which is based in western Poland, plans to launch its on demand service this October, while Toya expects to give a debut to its a month earlier. Further details about the latter will be revealed at IBC.
Both Multimedia Polska and Aster already have VOD services up and running. In the latter case, it was launched in June 2009, employs a back channel and plans to add sVOD to its offer in the near future.
Among Poland’s DTH platforms, n set things rolling on the VOD front and was subsequently followed by Cyfra+ and more recently (December 2009) Cyfrowy Polsat. In the latter case, the platform differentiates itself from the competition by offering a nVOD service, employing a satellite transponder with 15 dedicated channels that viewers can receive without the need to buy or rent a set-top box with a hard drive.
The incumbent telco TPSA, on the other hand, operates a VOD service that can be received by both its IPTV (streamed) and DTH (downloaded) subscribers.
On demand services are also provided in Poland by a growing number of portals including onet.pl, which is owned by TVN.
Although on demand services are also being rolled out rapidly elsewhere in the region – Romania’s Romtelecom, for instance, will launch its on demand operation, already available to IPTV customers, commercially this autumn – Poland is undoubtedly in the vanguard at present.