What do you need to know about the Polish VOD market?
Polish streaming services have already become an integral part of the marketing campaigns of both large brands and completely new brands that want to benefit from the exceptionally dynamic trend of TV on demand. The local customer is more likely to use services or products that are subconsciously combined with a personalised offer of movies and serials, which is separated by one click of the “play” button. Why? TV streaming in Poland has especially accustomed younger audiences (but also older generations) to the freedom of choice, which makes the reception of advertisements and placement much more “virulent” than in traditional media. What platforms should every creative team pay attention to?
Table of Contents:
- The Polish streaming services market in numbers
- Global streaming services in Poland:
- HBO GO
- Amazon Prime Video
- Apple TV +
- Rakuten TV
- European TV streaming in Poland:
- Canal + vod
- NC + Go
- Polish streaming platforms:
- TVP VOD
- Cyfrowy Polsat GO
- WP Pilot
- The announced streaming services in Poland:
- Disney +
- HBO Max
The Polish streaming services market in numbers
In Poland, traditional television is losing a lot to streaming platforms. During the first lockdown, especially younger groups of viewers were more likely to buy VOD subscriptions, although TV on demand is slowly becoming a family trend. According to the latest “Establishment Survey”, 26% of Polish households pay for access to streaming content (one-off or in the subscription model). However, let’s take into account the risk of underestimation and viewers who share access to the account not entirely in accordance with the platform’s regulations for a few people (which is an extremely common practice in Polish realities.) At this point, another threat is eliminated – illegal content, which until now could be viewed for free and without major consequences, is consequently removed from the Polish network.
A slightly more pessimistic scenario is put forward by the authors of the report from McKensey – “Digital Poles”. Research from 2020 shows that domestic viewers still lag behind the French, British and Americans, who declare an advantage of content on demand by 60% up to 80%. However, this is not a novelty, because Western countries had access to this type of technology much earlier than Poles. This shows that the streaming platform market on the Vistula River is a niche with great potential – both in terms of development and advertising. There are already people at the centre of the TV battle between streaming and traditional media. As much as 95% of households that regularly use pay TV packages and pay for VOD content at the same time, do not intend to change the current offer. This is a very good signal for potential advertisers.
On what carriers do Poles most often use streaming services? Of course, it is not surprising that laptops or mobile devices are popular, but a relatively large group has especially equipped themselves with traditional TV sets to watch VOD in higher resolution. According to the calculations of the Nielsen team, in 2020, 15% of households opted for such a strategy. This is almost twice as much as the year before, when it was 8% of families that declared similar preferences. What about the platforms themselves? It is worth emphasising that domestic customers are not limited to only global players, but also eagerly reach for the offer of local distributors.
Global streaming services in Poland
Of course, most media streaming platforms in Poland are among the global players. Some have permanently passed into both the colloquial language and local pop culture, which creates a very specific image of a given VOD in the eyes of potential customers. It is also an important signal for your brand, because if you bet on a larger budget, but also on more reliable campaign effects – global streaming platforms operating in Poland are a step in the right direction.
Netflix Polska – a leader among global players
Probably the first association of a statistical Pole in the context of streaming services will be Netflix. The platform has been operating in the country since 2016 and, according to the calculations of the Wirtualnemedia.pl portal, in January this year, recorded 6.45 million regular users, giving it a 22.26% market share. It is also a huge leap compared to last year’s summer, when the Polish version of Netflix was used by exactly 4,760,612 viewers.
Netflix also has the largest library of movies and series among all competitors on the Polish market. In the second half of 2020, the national version of the platform contained 3,398 productions, including 2,317 films and 1,081 serials. This is not a result that would place the local offer at the forefront of the world, because the Polish library is in 55th place in terms of content out of 70 countries analysed by the SurfShark team. However, this does not change the fact that the most-watched productions of the platform occupy leading positions in national rankings (including “Queen’s Gambit”, “House of paper” or “Vikings”).
What distinguishes the American platform from the competition the most? First of all, effective localisation activities, i.e. spots with the involvement of Polish celebrities, numerous cultural references and national productions (including “All my friends are dead”, “Sexify”, “In depth of the forest” or “1983”). Netflix in Poland is available under one of three plans (we will pay, per month, PLN 34 for the basic, PLN 43 for the standard, and the premium costs PLN 52).
HBO GO – synonymous with quality
The HBO GO platform has been operating on the Polish market since 2010 and in addition to the main channel library, it offers among others, Cinemax productions. In January this year, it attracted over 2.8 million regular users, which translated into 8.27% general coverage. Has it been better? The website records slight increases every year, but these are not as prominent as Netflix. For example, a year earlier, the Polish version of HBO GO had just over 2.68 million users.
This does not mean, however, that viewers avoid HBO GO. The platform is perceived mainly through the prism of valuable productions, among which the most outstanding are Quentin Tarantino’s “Once upon a time … in Hollywood”, “A Star is Born” with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga and the Polish serial “Wataha” or earlier, “Game of Thrones”. In the Polish library, we can find over 800 films with voice-over, dubbing or subtitles, as well as 300 features and documentary series.
HBO GO is also offered as part of wider TV packages in addition to a standalone subscription. The low price compared to the competition (PLN 24.90) and the long experience on the market speak in favour of the platform.
Amazon Prime Video – a curiosity with potential
The Amazon Prime Video platform appeared on the Polish streaming services market right after Netflix – in December 2016. Only in January this year, the platform exceeded the milestone of one million users with the result of 1.153 million, which is a significant jump compared to last year’s estimates (784 thousand). Currently, the site has 2.7% share in the entire market of streaming services in Poland and has really great potential to jump several positions in the overall ranking.
In the Polish Amazon Prime Video library we can find over 1000 movies and serials, the most popular of which are “The Man in the High Castle”, British “Fleabag” and the classics – “The Office” and “Dr. House”.
Amazon Prime does not stand out from the competition so far, and Poles treat the platform as a curiosity. Most likely, the popularity of the website will increase with the translations of subsequent titles, but so far domestic viewers prefer larger VOD libraries. Premium subscription in Poland costs 7.99 euro per month or 69 euro when billed annually.
Apple TV + – so far not crazy
The Apple VOD platform entered the Polish market at the beginning of November 2019. According to Dataxis data from 2 years ago, the website enjoyed as many as 170,000 registered accounts in the country, placing it in 4th place among all VODs – right after Netflix, HBO GO and CDA Premium. However, we should take into account the fact that right after the premiere of the website, users could take advantage of a fairly long trial period, which resulted in a subsequent decrease in the number of regular viewers. Data from May 2020, in turn, indicate 11,616 regular recipients, which is considerably less than at the time of the debut.
Why? Apple TV + actually has a lot of potential on the Polish market, but let’s remember two important aspects – domestic customers are still not fully convinced of the services of the American company, and the website itself has a relatively poor library of titles, of which only 2 productions had Polish dubbing – and there are animations (yes, Poles still appreciate such versions of films and serials).
The lack of a specific localisation campaign, poor programming offer and calibration with equipment other than Apple, leave much to be desired, but at least make TV + a niche platform. For such a limited library and many inaccuracies, Poles did not like the price – PLN 24.99 for the basic package.
Rakuten TV – Netflix Opportunity for Generation X
Probably the most niche offer from the entire list, which is Just in its infancy on the Polish streaming services market, but its range covers most continents. We are talking about Rakuten TV, which debuted in the country at the beginning of 2019. So far, the distributor has not provided specific data on the number of users, and the first stages of entering Poland were only a test of the website.
Poles, however, like the Rakuten TV model, because the website has already introduced options for Polish subtitles, voice-over and dubbing. The platform does not work on the basis of subscription and free access to the entire library, and “borrowing” a specific title for 24 hours. However, this does not bother users who are tired of the Netflix and HBO offer and the periodic deletion of production due to larger VODs. At Rakuten TV, Poles can find, among others, all Marvel films, a large number of titles from the DC universe, and domestic cinematic images. Technologies supporting the quality of reception also seem tempting – 4K, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and HDR10 +.
Despite the most likely coverage comparable to Apple TV +, Rakuten TV has a chance to gain a larger group of regular viewers due to the unique offer and the billing model to which mainly older audiences have become accustomed. The idea of home theatre is a niche that the platform will most likely develop efficiently along with a larger advertising campaign, but the site’s potential may make Rakuten TV “Netflix for Generation X”. Prices start from PLN 7.99 for a movie or serial.
European TV streaming in Poland
Streaming services in Poland, however, are not limited only to national and global players, and European platforms also develop their niches. These are mainly sites included in the TV packages and are an interesting variety for linear media. They are mainly used by users over 35, although there are also younger viewers, tempted by new products that other VOD services do not have in their packages.
Canal + VOD – a classic in a new edition
Canal + VOD is the best in managing its programming niche. The platform is part of the traditional Canal + (and NC +) package, which enjoyed the greatest popularity on the Polish market in the 2000s, but is still visited by a large number of older viewers. In January this year, the site had 1.185 million regular users, which translated into 4.08% participation among all sites. Importantly, however, Canal + VOD is clearly losing to the competition, because a year earlier it was used by over 1.4 million viewers.
Canal + VOD in its library has both titles from the base channel as well as HBO and FilmBox productions. In addition, users can stream live TV, which primarily encourages people with a sentiment towards linear services. According to the data of the platform itself, the offer includes 35 thousand movies and serials.
The platform itself is relatively fresh, but it is already attracting slightly more conservative viewers to its streaming services. Thus, the Canal + reserved so far for Generations X and Y seems to meet the expectations of “Zetas”.
So far, the experiment of the European broadcaster is working well. Viewers can choose from the following packages: Canal + Film (PLN 50 per month), Canal + Sport (PLN 50), Canal + Fun & Info (PLN 25), Canal + Kids (PLN 10) and a comprehensive offer (PLN 135 per month).
NC + Go – a twin version of Canal +
The NC + Go platform combines the features of both satellite and classic VOD TV. The creators did not publish information about the number of regular users, but it will probably not be a larger group than in the case of Canal + VOD. NC + Go is most often included in the TV subscription and does not enjoy greater interest from individual customers.
The strong point of NC + Go, however, is the library, which includes both live TV channels (including HBO) and a substantial VOD offer (including productions of competing services, such as the Polish Player.pl). The creators declare that there are over 90 linear programmes, and on the occasion of the platform’s premiere, information about 13 thousand standard subscription titles.
NC + Go is a convenient solution for an already committed linear TV audience, but so far there is little potential to expand its regular audience. The offer combining live programmes and premiere titles seems tempting, although the creators lacked a message personalised for a specific target group. At first glance, the price of the service should be encouraging, because in theory it’s free (depends on your Canal + subscription), but each set has a limited number of free NC + Go viewing hours. For example, the OPTIMUM + package (standard PLN 99.99 per month) has 100 hours of unhampered reception of the VOD platform reserved.
onlinecinema.eu – an alternative for giants
Quite a promising formula is onlinecinema.eu – a website that entered the Polish market relatively recently, but serves services combining the offers of most of the existing platforms. How? The site does not work like a typical streaming site, but is rather a base for searching and watching competitions’ productions.
The onlinecinema.eu library includes titles from Netflix, HBO GO, Player.pl, CDA.pl, CHILI Cinema, Rakuten TV and the iTunes Store.
So far, we don’t know much about the platform itself, but it undeniably has a lot of potential, especially among people who are tired of connecting subscriptions so far, in order to watch the title that has been previously downloaded from a given website. Certainly, the big disadvantage is the unclear philosophy of functioning (in theory, the productions are streamed on onlinecinema.eu from legal sources, and the access itself is free), but when registering, you need to complete a survey from external websites or register for coupons to one of the discounters. This is based on generating traffic on other affiliate marketing websites, but such a scheme effectively scares off a large part of potential users from the very beginning.
Polish streaming platforms
Regardless of the scale of reach of global players, as well as much larger budgets of companies with foreign capital, domestic websites are opening up the top popularity rankings. It is true that some operate within large media concerns, supported by, inter alia, The Discovery Group, however, the fact is that Poles clearly focus on native content. The great advantage of this type of platform is its very clearly embedded in the local reality, as well as conducting such communication that responds to the most desirable patterns of viewers themselves, i.e. clear references to Polish pop culture, cooperation with local artists and promotion in traditional media (also linear television) .
Player.pl – Polish leader
The Player.pl platform (formerly TVN Player and Player +) has been operating within the Discovery Group since August 26, 2011, but is a project entirely developed by the Polish team, which combined the linear television model with VOD. In December 2020, the website was ranked 3rd in the popularity ranking (after CDA.pl and Netflix) with almost 3.5 million regular users, and achieved 3.8 million 12 months later. However, the breakthrough came in February 2021, when, according to Mediaplan reports, the platform had nearly 6.7 million viewers, which allowed it to overtake Netflix and take 1st place in the national ranking.
The success of Player.pl coincided with the decision of TVN, which gave up free content on the site (previously, some titles could be watched free of charge, provided that you watched the advertising cycle). Prices on Player.pl start from PLN 5 and include live VOD (TVN24, TVN Meteo, TVN24 BiS, Mango 24) and content from external broadcasters:
FilmBox Live (Kino TV, FilmBox Premium HD, DocuBox HD, FashionBox HD, FightBox, Kino Polska, Kino Polska Muzyka) and AXN Now (AXN, AXN Black, AXN White, AXN Spin). Importantly, the creators also clearly promote their own productions (the so-called Player Originals), the most popular of which are: “Chyłka”, “Szadź”, “Absent” or the famous movie “25 years of innocence. The case of Tomek Komenda”.
A huge advantage of Player.pl is an extensive content library (premium content, extended versions of TV productions and live VOD), as well as cross-promotions with other media (including one of the most widely read newspapers – “Gazeta Wyborcza”). Currently, the platform offers 3 basic packages: “Player with advertising” (from 5 to 8 PLN), “Player without advertising” (15 PLN) and “Player + TV Channels” (30 PLN).
TVP VOD – state media enter the Internet
The TVP VOD service, which has been operating since 2010, is a direct extension of the official website of Telewizja Polska. Initially, it functioned as a subpage of tvp.pl and distributed only public media programmes, but over time it became a separate platform with the possibility of streaming live programmes and providing VOD services. Viewership remains at a relatively low but constant level of 2.7 million regular users [as of January 2021], which translates to 9.44% market share.
A significant advantage of TVP VOD over other streaming services in Poland is the distribution of not only domestic titles, but also accredited BBC productions. In addition, as an add-on to paid content, users can watch as many as 40,000 productions completely free of charge.
Some viewers are convinced by the streaming price of Telewizja Polska, because the cost for a single production ranges from PLN 5 to PLN 23, which is not an excessive amount for access for 24 hours. There is also a subscription system (Zone ABO) at a standard price of PLN 9.99 per month, but people who regularly pay the tax on RTV equipment can use the platform completely free of charge (in practice, few users report to the offices for the purchase of e.g. a TV set).
Ipla.tv – past glory years
Ipla.tv, the project of Cyfrowy Polsat (the group responsible for one of the most popular TV stations in the country, next to TVN and TVP) has long ruled on the Polish streaming services market. The platform was launched in 2008 and from the beginning it offered both VOD services and live streaming. The website enjoyed great popularity until 2010, when the team had over 2 million regular users (which at that time was an exceptionally optimistic result). Currently, however, Ipla.tv is regularly losing viewers – from 1.28 million in December 2020 to 1.22 in January this year, which corresponds to 4.42% share on the Polish streaming services market.
In the Ipli library you can find over 60 thousand productions – in the free, subscription and reserved formula only for holders of Cyfrowy Polsat subscription. Live sports events (especially boxing matches) are very popular as part of the website, and mainly on this type of streaming, Ipla remains in the rankings against the competition. Proposal? Despite the weakening position of the website, sports brands are eager to cooperate with the Ipla.tv team.
Ipla is losing popularity, but the first moves of the team are already visible in changing the website to a streaming platform mainly for sports events. A big plus is the price, which is too tempting compared to other websites – we will pay PLN 15 for the premium package and the next – about PLN 20.
Cyfrowy Polsat GO – the successor of Ipla.tv?
The team from Cyfrowy Polsat probably noticed that Ipla is losing a lot to the competition, hence the new design of a streaming platform focused on broadcasting TV programmes. Cyfrowy Polsat GO is a service that is part of the classic subscription and so far does not constitute a separate subscription site.
As the creators themselves declare, as part of Cyfrowy Polsat GO, viewers have the opportunity to follow over 100 live programmes and watch HBO titles (as part of the appropriate package). At the moment, the offer is not that impressive compared to other streaming services in the country, but it is quite possible that it will be expanded over time (in parallel to the changes in Ipli).
The basic TV package with Cyfrowy Polsat GO in the set costs PLN 60. So far, the platform is too fresh to position it for specific brands, but it is already a potentially interesting medium for classic ads.
VOD.pl – streaming for demanding customers
The platform, belonging to the local branch of Ringier Axel Springer, has been operating since September 21, 2012 and despite some drops, it is still considered the foundation of the Polish streaming services market. In December 2020, the website was enjoyed by 1,837 million users, and in January this year. 1,884 million, which translated into 6.48% market share. This is not an impressive result compared to the competition, but remember that VOD.pl is considered a brand in itself, and not an aggressive product for dynamic expansion.
The platform has an extensive library of independent films and serials, as well as a large set of artistic productions. Viewers have access to a wide range of both classic titles and the latest productions of domestic and foreign cinematography.
It is not surprising that VOD.pl is a tempting alternative to Netflix for people who are looking for slightly more sophisticated productions. The platform is used by Millennials, representatives of the upper- middle class and young intellectuals. Proposal? It is an extremely absorbent service for niche brands, and the price does not scare off the competition (prices from 4.90 to 14.90 PLN per title).
CDA.pl – the current leader of the Polish market
The CDA.pl platform (also: cda.pl – premium) is a completely Polish streaming service, which initially broadcast free of charge (provided that you watch the ads in full), but over time has developed a paid model – functioning until today. For a long time, the website was ranked second in the national ranking – in December 2020 with a result of over 3.81 million, and in January 2021 with 3.87 million regular users, which guaranteed a 13.31% share on the Polish streaming services market.
Compared to the competition, the CDA.pl library does not look great, because it has exactly 8,675 films and serials [as of April 2021]. The significant advantage of the website, however, is the variety of productions, as well as the simplicity of use, which has won the platform a large audience among older users.
CDA.pl is a site to which a large part of Polish Internet users feel a certain very clear sentiment. The price also speaks for the service – PLN 19.90 per month. It is an exceptionally attractive partner for brands that want to focus on specific localisation activities on the Polish Internet (which domestic users quickly appreciate).
WP Pilot – ambitions greater than VOD
The history of WP Pilot began with the launch of the Netvi platform (2013), and then the transformation of the website into Videostar (2014), to function as a product of the oldest website in the country – Wirtualna Polska, 3 years later. The service competes directly with Canal + in its segment, with almost 2.6 million users in December 2020, and in January this year – over 2.7 million, which translates to 9.39% share on the entire market of Polish streaming services.
As part of WP Pilot, users have access to over 100 live TV channels, as well as the original content of Wirtualna Polska. It is the offer combining classic VOD with live streaming that places the platform in the middle of the nationwide ranking, and the creators themselves have the ambition not only to beat the competition, but also to enter the segment of full subscription distributors.
A considerable advantage is the availability throughout the European Union and the price of PLN 45.99 for over 100 nationwide channels. At the moment, the website is very dynamically developed, which encourages both local brands and foreign concerns to cooperate.
Horizon.tv – an interesting debutant
Horizon.tv (or Horizon GO) is a platform and mobile application addressed to UPC subscription holders – the national provider of internet services. The service combines the features of both VOD and live channel streaming.
Horizon.tv offers 157 TV channels, 140 of which can be viewed offline, as well as “thousands” of movies and serials. Interestingly, the service provider allows you to use the Replay TV technology, which allows you to receive content from linear TV even 7 days after broadcast.
There is no doubt that Horizon has potential for further development, but so far it has not broken out of its segment. For many users, it is still a curiosity as part of the classic TV package (or for a small, PLN 5 fee).
The announced streaming services in Poland
The current positions on the streaming services market in Poland have already captured a regular group of recipients, and more and more players are more and more willing to decide to operate in the domestic realities. Thus, viewers are waiting for new products in the VOD segment, which is not indifferent to both complete debutants in the Central and Eastern Europe region and existing broadcasters who plan to expand their offer.
Disney + – the most anticipated rookie
The platform, which debuted on November 12, 2019 in the USA, gathered 100 million users in less than 16 months, and the next step is to enter the streaming market in Central and Eastern Europe. According to Gazeta Wyborcza informants, the website is to debut in Poland this year, but the authors themselves did not provide a specific release date.
It does not change the fact that a huge part of the Marvel universe in particular is waiting for the Disney + library. Polish viewers are already waiting for the series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and already announced by the distributors, “Loki”. Most likely, both titles will also have Polish dubbing, so the website can count on interest from both the youngest viewers, as well as teenagers and Millennials.
HBO Max – a replacement without many expectations
HBO Max is to replace HBO GO, but viewers will not be left without some compensation, because the replacement, announced for the second half of 2021, will offer an even larger library, as well as 2 subscription packages.
The first is to cost PLN 24.90 and offer access without any advertising, while the second will be cheaper, although with breaks for placement. In terms of the potential expansion of the target group, we can expect a certain refreshment, although it will most likely not be a coup in popularity, but rather a slight facelift.
The streaming services market in Poland has already taken root in the minds of domestic viewers. VOD platforms are an excellent starting point for localisation activities, product placement in original titles, as well as the purchase of advertising space. Remember that your campaign must respond to the very specific needs of Polish customers, but the basis of the strategy should be solid knowledge of the local market. To be up to date with national realities, follow our social media, follow the blog and contact us to consult your assumptions!