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NEM Dubrovnik June 2016: Netflix Not Local Enough For The Balkans

 June 2016

Last week, I headed to the beautiful city of Dubrovnik for the fourth year of the New Europe Market event. It was nice to see how the event is growing in popularity and remains a well-organised event. Of course, the location was an added bonus!

There was a lot of discussion this year about OTT and specifically Netflix. The content giant has yet to make any significant headway in the Balkan patchwork of small countries (Croatia, Slovenije, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and on its fringe Bulgaria). Poor broadband coverage has a part to play, however the lack of local content is by far the biggest barrier for Netflix.

The region is already covered by a mix of multinational operators, such as Telekom Austria, Vivacom, United, SBB, and PINK, as well as smaller entrepreneurial solution developers that have enjoyed organic growth over recent years. Some of the small local companies are already streaming aggregated content on multiple platforms, which will likely grow in popularity, especially as the broadband infrastructure improves. In this market, these providers have a strong position compared to Netflix because they can deliver that very local content in local language, that Netflix simply cannot provide.

I will be interested to witness how the market evolves over the coming year. As more content, specifically local content is made available, and as access to reliable broadband increases, we will likely see a growing appetite for OTT content. I think that by next year’s NEM, we will see a positive shift, with many more consumers accessing OTT content on multiple devices.

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