Cyfrowy Polsat’s ipla feels its way with live OTT services

PolsatPolish pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat will progressively test the market by adding more services to its ipla OTT offering, while trying to avoid cannibalising its main pay TV services, according to Albert Szybinski, deputy director of marketing for online services, Cyfrowy Polsat. 

“We are trying to figure out how to push pay content but it’s a problem. We have a piracy problem but we are trying to offer as many choices as possible,” said Szybinski, speaking at Informa’s Digital TV CEE conference in Krakow this morning.

To test the market for pay content, Cyfrowy Polsat is trying to push live sports and other services on ipla, its OTT service. Overall, ipla is offering a mix of free content, pay live content and pay VOD including movies from major studios.

Cyfrowy Polsat recently launched a package of 15 pay channels on ipla for PLN10 (€3), including Kino Polska, Discovery and a range of Filmbox movie channels.

Szybinski said the question of how to ensure that the launch of pay channels on ipla did not cannibalise the Cyfrowy Polsat base is still an open one and subject to discussion. “We are testing and feeling our way,” he said, adding that it was important to make sure that the group stayed ahead of viewing and usage trends while avoiding damaging its existing business.

At the moment ipla has far fewer channels available than the main Cyfrowy Polsat service. However, this could change as viewers migrates to online services, he said.

There are currently four pay packages, iplaEXTRA for PLN4.90 allows viewers to watch content without advertising that can normally bee seen free with ads. iplaFILM, for PLN19.90, is a film SVOD service. ipla also offers sports and international services. The iplaWORLD service, aimed at Poles living abroad, is available for PLN19.90.

Szybinski said that, while piracy presented a challenge to those trying to sell pay online movie services in particular,  the ability of ipla to enable customers to move between devices offered a route to differentiate the product. Another strategy is to make shows available before they are air on linear TV.

Szybinsky said over 50% of ipla content is now watched on devices other than PCs. Often people switched devices mid-programme, so it is important for service providers to enable viewers to do this smoothly and easily, he said. Viewing video on tablets and computers matches primtetime viewing while mobile device usage peaks later, with mobiles often being watched by people in bed late in the evening.

Tablets and Smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular, said Szybinski. ipla is also available to Cyfrowy Polsat’s three and a half million pay TV subscribers. “We are just starting this project but we see a strong push from the users to watch OTT content on their set-tops,” he said.