How well is Netflix doing in Central and Eastern Europe?
It’s a question I always ask whenever I visit the region, hoping to get a surprising and indeed newsworthy answer. I rarely do, with the usual response being something along the lines of “quite well in its target (i.e. affluent) audience”.
Tracking Netflix’s progress in CEE since it launched two and a half years ago is not easy. Although Broadband TV News has tried its best, there is genuinely a lack of information in the public domain.
What we can say, however, is that in the case of Poland, where viewing figures are published in the trade press, Netflix is making steady progress. Yet while it has overtaken ShowMax and is more popular than a recently resurgent HBO GO, it is still some distance behind local services, headed by VOD.pl.
Poland is, of course, a priority market for Netflix and the streaming service is even producing local content there. However, in countries such as Slovakia it’s a different story, with one recent report even claiming that it no longer localises content into the Slovak language.
At first glance this may not look surprising, given the small size of the Slovak market. On the other hand, it is one of the most dynamic in the region and earlier this year the incumbent Slovak Telekom launched its own Netflix-type service, known as Magio Kino.
Aside from Poland, the take-up of Netflix remains something of a mystery in most CEE countries. However, figures occasionally come out and one quoted at the TVCON conference in Prague earlier this year, albeit not directly from Netflix, was 50,000 in the case of the Czech Republic. Yet even this did not specify how many were long-term customers or just signed up for a month’s trial.
In terms of reception, we have learned late last year that smart TVs are the most popular way to watch Netflix in Romania. They are used by 59% of the service’s customers and also account for 55% of Netflix’s viewing time.
Netflix has certainly not stood still in CEE, signing important agreements with mobile operators and Liberty Global. While its take-up may not be as high as some would have envisaged, it cannot be denied that it is making an impact in the region.