Punted as a Netflix rival in Africa, Naspers-owned ShowMax, has announced its launch in Poland. The service will be branded ShowMax and utilize the current ShowMax platform and Polish language apps.
“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."John Kotsaftis, CEO at ShowMax
The video on demand company says their ShowMax Poland content will be tailored specifically for Poland with a strong focus on local TV shows and movies as they have done in some African markets like Kenya and South Africa. ShowMax say they have acquired exclusive rights to a range of popular local Polish shows like political satire Ucho Prezesa (Ear of the Chairman) as well as a catalogue of the most sought-after movies by Polish directors including the likes of 2016 box office hits Pitbull and Planeta Singli.
Notably, the company has said that plans are also underway for original productions, just like their rival Netflix. Speaking about the decision to expand ShowMax, CEO John Kotsaftis said that it “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.” Kotsaftis said.
Former Google executive Maciej Sojka has been hired to set up and run ShowMax Poland. Sojka ran YouTube partnerships for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to that, Sojka 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).
“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.”