Here are 10 takeaways – in no particular order – from Poland’s leading cable industry event, which took place in the city of Lodz between October 24 -26.
(1) Liberty Global’s acquisition of Multimedia Polska is not yet a done deal. While almost certain to be approved by the competition authority UOKiK, the process will take time and probably come with strings attached. As in the case of the Aster deal several years ago, some assets may have to be sold on to a third party.
(2) Netflix is the big elephant in the room everyone is aware of but not too willing to speak about. It is serious about making its mark in Poland, hence the recent move to localisation. In due course, the country could become a “little big market”, by western European standards, for the SVOD service.
(3) It’s all about scale. Certainly for UPC, which will see its reach increase from 20% to 30% of Polish TV homes once the Multimedia deal is finalised. Vectra, the country’s number two cable operator, is also aware of the need to grow, albeit through smaller acquisitions.
(4) UPC regards Orange as its main competitors and feels at a disadvantage. Hence its need for scale.
(5) Zygmunt Solorz-Zak sees the internet as the future. Given his impressive track record in the Polish TV industry over the last 25 years, he’s probably right.
(6) Multiplex 8 is very important in the eyes of the local industry.
(7) TVP seems to be evolving its strategy as it goes along. No one quite knows what its plans are for Multiplex 8, where it will have three slots. Or indeed for a second sports channel, though this now looks unlikely.
(8) The Polish market is probably five years behind the US in terms of viewing trends but still the most advanced in CEE. It can easily be compared to that in Spain and Italy, less so to Germany and the UK.
(9) Scripps Networks Interactive denies it has faced any political interference in Poland. In fact, it says it has been welcomed as an investor. It is committed to the country and may use it as a springboard to look for opportunities in other parts of the region.
(10) There is a genuine belief in the industry that the Polish market is one of the most competitive in the world. In many places consumers have a real choice when it comes to providers of electronic communications services.