Netflix will shortly make its debut in Poland, one of Central and East Europe’s largest and most lucrative markets.
Opinions as to how well it will do there remain divided. On the one hand, some say the SVOD service will struggle, given that it will not offer viewers Polish productions. They cite the example of such popular local series as M jak Milosc, which has become something of a national institution and Netflix will find it hard to compete with.
Others argue that the series is watched by an older (aged 40+) demographic, which is not used to the internet and prefers classical TV.
Younger people, they add, are not only familiar with the internet but eagerly awaiting the arrival of Netflix.
What is more, foreign programming remains highly popular in Poland. Take the example of House of Cards, which was carried by the movie channel Ale Kino. Although its viewership figures were low, it was also watched illegally no fewer than 5.5 million times on the internet in Poland – the third highest figure in the world.
Some also argue that Netflix will initially compete with paid movie channels rather than VOD services in Poland. The latter are already well established and unlikely to feel the ‘Netflix effect’, at least in the short term.
As in other countries, Netflix will probably seek to enter into agreements with some of these local VOD services. Its main obstacle, aside from the lack of local productions, may nevertheless be financial: pricing it correctly for the Polish market will be essential, and Netflix has just increased its fees in Europe following a similar hike in the US.
The general view is that once Netflix enters Poland, most probably later this year, it will initially secure customers – their actual numbers are hard to predict – already favourably disposed to the service.
However, it will be hampered by lack of Polish content and have to be priced realistically for the market.