Nielsen’s data show that TV viewership in Poland during the COVID-19 pandemic is growing. The viewership is mainly gained by news and children’s channels. This trend is also influenced by access to selectively decoded channels, available free of charge from pay-TV providers.
COVID-19: TV ratings have gone up
The coronavirus pandemic, which forces Poles to stay at home, significantly affects their behaviour related to watching video and TV content. A clear increase in interest in VOD content is communicated by Netflix or HBO GO, for example. At the same time, the volume of minutes spent by Poles in front of TV sets is growing. According to Nielsen Audience Measurment data, in the period 2-22 March 2020, the average daily time of watching TV was 4 hours and 59 minutes, which is an increase of 27 minutes compared to March 2019, when ATS (average time spent) was 4 hours and 32 minutes. The highest increases in viewing figures were recorded by news and children’s channels and programmes.
Free offer of channels for the time of the epidemic
The special offer of pay-TV providers during a pandemic is also somewhat influenced by the higher TV audience Operators joining the #stayathome prevention campaign, temporarily make content from higher TV packages available to their subscribers for free, also decoding premium channels. For example, in the so-called „open window” of the Cyfrowy Polsat Group there are 25 channels without additional charges. In turn, Orange has decoded over 40 channels from the Comfort Package and now all Orange TV cable customers can watch them. A number of channels, mainly sports and film channels, have also been decoded by Canal+. Play has also extended its television offer for the time of the epidemic, providing all users of Play Now with 40 channels in the Extra Package (e.g. with BBC channels) and Kids.
Will COVID-19 delay the cord-cutt phenomenon?
In view of the above, the question arises to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic is conducive to the offer of pay-TV providers and whether the pay-TV service, which is put in competition with VOD services, will in any way benefit from the current situation. According to PMR, the prevailing epidemic and the need to stay at home will surely perpetuate the need to use TV, including the pay-TV model. This will turn out to be crucial mainly in the case of households which so far have been thinking about giving up the pay-TV service. This will allow such a decision to be postponed in time or abandoned.
However, care should be taken when assessing the scale of demand from pay-TV subscribers for various types of premium channels, mainly film and television channels, which are one of the stronger building blocks of the ARPU of television providers. Some viewers may need to do so, but in PMR’s view this will not happen on a mass scale. Significant limitations will turn out to be lower GDP for the country and the related lower level of average household expenditures (uncertainty about employment and earnings, or even lack of them), as well as less possibility to consult and buy a new offer in direct sales in salons. Another barrier will also be the competition from VOD services, including primarily in the subscription model (Netflix, HBO GO, Ipla, Player). On the other hand, satellite platform operators or cable operators will have the chance to increase sales of external SVOD services available in their offer. This is mainly the HBO GO platform, which until March 2018 was only available in the operator channel.
More information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the business of pay-TV and VOD service providers in Poland can be found in the latest edition of PMR’s report: Pay TV and VOD market in Poland 2020″.