While not a game changer, Netflix’s localisation in Poland is an important development.
Announced on September 20, followed by a similar move in Turkey two days later, it has seen the company introduce a fully localised user interface, with over 80% of its content dubbed or subtitled into Polish.
At the same time, it has begun charging for its service in local currency and also entered into an agreement with T-Mobile. Just as importantly, it is now offering a growing number of local productions in addition to international hit movies and series.
None of this is new or unexpected. Netflix’s localisation plans for Poland and Turkey in Q3 were signaled in company results published earlier this year.
Furthermore, as far back as March, just two months after the SVOD service’s big global expansion, it was already discussing the possibility of showing Polish titles and even working with the Polish film industry on joint projects.
In March, only around 10% of Netflix’s offer in Poland was being shown either dubbed or subtitled into the local language. While this was probably significantly more than in other CEE markets, it was still a source of irritation to potential customers.
So, what happens now? Certainly in Poland, Netflix will be hoping for an upswing in its fortunes. However, whether it can challenge existing local SVOD services, or enter into partnerships with them, remains to be seen.
There is probably no reason why the localisation that has happened in Poland cannot be repeated in other large CEE markets such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania. Russia, by the very nature of the OTT industry there, may require a different and more complex approach.
However, it will probably need more than just localisation for Netflix to really succeed in CEE. Entering into more local partnerships, as well as reducing the cost of the service and making it easier to pay for, will certainly help.