HBO has played a hugely important role in Central and Eastern Europe’s TV industry since the 1990s and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Which is why it is important to keep some perspective on two news stories that broke earlier this week. The first, in the Financial Times and strongly denied by the WarnerMedia CEO John Stankley, was that AT&T is looking into the possibility of selling HBO Europe in order to reduce its debts. The second was that Michal Kozicki, the CEO of HBO Polska, has resigned and will leave the company at the end of this month.
HBO is never far from the news – and invariably in a positive light – in Central and Eastern Europe. Earlier this month, for instance, we learned that it had reached an agreement with the leading operators in the Czech Republic, including O2, Skylink and UPC, allowing them to offer HBO 3 free of charge for a limited period.
Meanwhile in Q1 last year we saw HBO Go made available as a standalone service in Poland. This was very much the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle, with all HBO Europe subscribers in Europe, grouped under HBO España, HBO Nordic and HBO Go in 12 CEE countries then being offered a full HBO OTT service.
Last year was also a landmark year for HBO in the Baltics, where the service finally made its debut in Latvia (LMT and Lattelecom), Estonia and Lithuania (both Telia).
The popularity of HBO is certainly something that cannot be denied. As we reported earlier this year, Polish viewers even voted it the service they would most like to see offered on their ‘ideal’ DTT multiplex.
In what is an increasingly competitive European SVOD market in which Netflix and Amazon account for the lion’s share of revenues, HBO will almost certainly continue to hold its own.