Poland is substantially behind the Western European markets in terms of online TV viewing, largely due to the lower broadband penetration,

but also due to the less developed nature of local services. Piracy is also an issue there.

The market is led by predominantly free services, with paid-for video services struggling against the availability of ad-funded services.

In an audit, the local Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) listed 21 companies providing commercial VOD services in Poland.

The leading online video service is IPLA, a subsidiary of pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat, which offers subscription and transactional VOD. Another big player in teh TVOD and SVOD market is Onet, owned by commercial TV network TVN. Some of the Hollywood studios offer their own VOD services, such as NBC Universal, with its PictureBox SVOD service, and HBO, which offers a SVOD service, alongside its pay TV service, HBO Europe.

The market is going to be joined in two months by arthouse VOD service Vodkin, which is aimed at cinephiles, says leading producer Dariusz Jablonski. He is part of the group, the Independent Film Foundation, which is setting up the site. It will offer both transactional VOD and SVOD. Vodkin is part of EuroVoD, which is a federation of VOD platforms in Europe backed by the European Commission.

Jablonski says that in Poland the use of distribution windows makes less and less sense, and that the best way to beat the pirates is to make pics available on VOD as soon as possible.

Jablonski adds, “If Netflix does not come to this countries with its offer, it will be present anyway, but on pirate websites.”

Speculation has been rife about Netflix’s intensions for Poland since the company advertised on its website for Polish-language specialists.