ShowMax picks ex-YouTube Africa boss to lead foray in Poland’s internet TV market

In a move set to expand its global footprint and build on its successes to date, Naspers-owned internet TV service ShowMax is launching in Poland. The service will utilise the current ShowMax platform and Polish language apps.

The content on the service has been tailored specifically for Poland with a strong focus on local TV shows and movies. Poland has a vibrant TV and film production industry, and for launch ShowMax has acquired exclusive rights to a range of popular local shows including political satire Ucho Prezesa (Ear of the Chairman) as well as a catalogue of the most sought-after movies by Polish directors. These include the 2016 box office hits Pitbull and Planeta Singli. Plans are also underway for original productions.

To lead its foray in the country, ShowMax has picked former Google executive Maciej Sojka – left – as its MD for Poland and be in charge of setting up and running ShowMax subsidiary in the country. Sojka, who has been ShowMax’s MD for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) since August last year, ran YouTube partnerships for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to that, he set up the well-known 24-hour news channel TVN24 before moving on to the role of CEO of satellite pay-TV platform owned by ITI Neovision.

ShowMax Poland’s executive team also includes Grzegorz Esz as Head of Marketing (ex-UPC Polska and T-Mobile) and Jerzy Dzięgielewski as Head of Content (ex-HBO Central Europe).

Speaking about the decision to expand ShowMax, CEO John Kotsaftis said: “This is a big deal for us, especially coming just 18 months after we launched ShowMax. With more than seven million people paying for online video in Poland and an overall population of more than 38 million, this is an exciting market.”

“The key to success, however, is catering for local needs. To deliver on this and be close to the market, we chose to set up operations in Warsaw, headed up by a respected Polish pay-TV and internet TV pioneer. This team is aggressively developing a strong portfolio of local content including commissioning original productions.”

ShowMax Poland is tackling three key consumer challenges, namely having access to local content so people don’t feel the need to resort to pirate sites, helping subscribers discover relevant new content, and having conveniently accessible, high-quality video free from the malware sometimes present on pirate sites.

“Poland is an interesting market in that local content features heavily on pirate sites, with many of these sites actually charging for access. In fact, pirate sites account for a significant portion of all online video revenue. This tells us there’s a ready appetite to pay for a truly Polish service with content that excites and entertains people,” said Kotsaftis.

More details on the content commissioned by ShowMax Poland will be released in due course. Speaking about the strategy for original productions, Kotsaftis said: “I think the key difference in our approach to original productions is we’re looking hyper-local. We’re not trying to compete with prohibitively expensive shows designed to appeal to audiences worldwide. Instead we think there’s strong demand for local content that only works at the local level.”

Poland, whose current population stands at approximately 38 million, has 7.2 million fixed broadband subscriptions, 23.7 million mobile broadband subscriptions and is the sixth largest fixed broadband market in Europe according to OECD stats for December 2015. The country’s fixed broadband penetration is growing faster than the OECD average and is the sixth fastest in Europe.

Launched in South Africa in August 2015, ShowMax enables subscribers to access to a huge online catalogue of TV shows, movies, kids’ shows and documentaries. Clients can stream ShowMax content using apps for smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers and media players. ShowMax also works with Chromecast and AirPlay.
ShowMax is currently available in more than 60 countries.


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