The Polish online video portal VOD.pl has ceased activities of VOD+, its subscription video on demand (SVoD) offering, 31 January 2017. Offering a selection close to 600 foreign and domestic Movie and TV titles, the service had been in operation since Q2 2015, priced at 19.90 PLN ($4.99) per month.
VOD.pl is operated by Polish internet media company Onet.pl Group, owned by Ringier Axel Springer Media AG (75%) and TVN Group (25%).
VOD.pl is one of the leading players in Poland for long-form online video; offering content on ad-funded as well as on transactional rental bases. IHS analysis indicates that ad-funded is the most significant driver of the portal’s business, with the company claiming 17% market share for long-form content in 2016.
VOD+ was already the second attempt by the company at establishing a profitable subscription model. The first attempt, VODmax, operated between 2010 and 2013; during which time the company also distributed WarnerTV through the video portal. WarnerTV was a SVoD proposition by Warner Bros. distributed solely by VOD.pl in Poland. The two SVoD propositions were each priced at 29.99 PLN ($9.94 in 2013). However, this SVoD offering was also discontinued due to the lack of profitability compared to the ad-funded model. In markets such as Poland, where consumers’ behaviour has been conditioned by prolonged widespread availability of piracy, the targeted audience has historically been hesitant to commit to subscription or pay for online content in general.
However, this has been broadly proven to change upon the arrival of Netflix in any given market, serving to educate consumers about the convenience of the online video subscription model. The SVoD proposition by VOD.pl was launched mid-2015, during the widely anticipated arrival of Netflix, as a pre-emptive move to capitalise on the expected shift in consumer behaviour. This development indicates that while VOD.pl had timed its launch correctly, the company had been unable to offer a proposition appealing to a broad enough audience of Polish consumers. This is likely the result of Netflix committing significant investment to acquiring content for Polish market over the course of 2016, and subsequently reducing the pool of compelling content available to local players.