Market environment and competition

The market of television stations in Poland comprises public and commercial broadcasters transmitting channels of either nationwide or regional coverage. A significant portion of the stations are of the pay TV variety (cable networks, satellite platforms).

The first television programmes in Poland were broadcast in the 1950s by TVP, the state-owned TV broadcaster. TVP was the only television broadcaster on the Polish market until 1992, when as a result of the political transformation the broadcasting market was opened up to commercial operators. The number of broadcasters has been steadily on the rise ever since. On July 23rd 2013, the implementation of digital terrestrial TV (DTT) was completed, and now the DTT multiplexes offer free access to 24 channels and cover 98% of the country.

The first analogue signal switch-offs took place on November 7th 2012, and the last on July 23rd 2013. As of the latter date, the analogue signal is no longer available in Poland. Digital terrestrial TV currently comprises three multiplexes, offering 24 free-to-air TV channels. The list includes four new channels (devoted to social and religious issues, films, education and knowledge, and children aged 4 to 12) in the MUX-1 offering, added following the public tender award and release of the slot by TVP, which previously held the allocation. The channels are Telewizja TRWAM (a social and religious channel), STOPKLATKA TV (a film channel), Fokus TV (education and knowledge) and TVP ABC (a channel for children aged 4 to 12). The process of releasing the slots and adding the above channels to MUX-1 ended on April 28th 2014, when the last of the four, Fokus TV, was added to the mix.

To obtain a licence, broadcasters have to comply with licensing requirements relating to the content of their channels, which is regulated by law, as well as their corporate ownership structure. In addition, substantial expenditure is required from prospective broadcasters in order to ensure the necessary infrastructure, purchase a library of content, secure proper distribution of programmes and assemble a professional team responsible for sales of advertising airtime. Bearing in mind that sales teams working for current broadcasters on the Polish market are highly competent and highly competitive, the entry barrier for new players is rather difficult to overcome in a short time.

The authority which regulates the Polish broadcasting market is the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), whose powers include the award of broadcasting licences and monitoring of active broadcasters (e.g. compliance with the terms of the licences for specific stations).

Polish TV advertising market

According to ZenithOptimedia estimates, in 2013 Poland was the third largest advertising market in CEE (after Russia and Turkey), with a total net advertising expenditure of more than PLN 6.4bn (after discounts or rebates), down 5.6% on 2012. The value of Poland’s TV advertising market amounted to over PLN 3.3bn (5.1% less than in 2012). ZenithOptimedia forecasts that the TV advertising market will grow by 1.1% in 2014, and by 1.0% in 2015.

In 2013, television continued to be the dominant advertising medium, accounting for 52% of the total advertising spend. According to ZenithOptimedia, this figure will remain relatively flat in the years to come. TV advertising has not been affected by significant expansion of Internet advertising, as lower spending has been recorded in the printed media segment.

Structure of advertising spending in 2009-2016

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014E 2015E 2016E
TV 52% 53% 52% 52% 52% 52% 51% 51%
Press 20% 18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6%
Outdoor 9% 8% 8% 7% 7% 7% 7% 6%
Radio 7% 7% 7% 7% 7% 7% 7% 7%
Internet 12% 14% 16% 18% 20% 23% 25% 28%
Cinema 1% 1% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%

Source: ZenithOptimedia, Advertising Expenditure Forecasts – December 2013.

The Polish advertising market is characterised by high TV consumption. In 2013, the average TV viewing time across the surveyed population was 247 minutes, up 4 minutes on 2012. Given the high TV consumption rate, the market is likely to remain an attractive platform for advertisers.

According to the advertising market estimates prepared by Starling, in 2013 the Polsat Group had a 24.1% share in the market, valued at PLN 3.53bn. The 2013 power ratio stood at 1.23 (calculated as the ratio of the advertising market share and the audience share in the ‘all 4+’ group).

ZenithOptimedia forecasts that the Polish TV advertising market will grow by 1.1% net in 2014. Based on ZenithOptimedia data, we expect that the TV advertising market will grow at a rate of 1.1% (CAGR) in 2014-2016. We are confident that TV advertising is a very effective method of reaching customers. Additionally, looking at the relation of the Polish advertising market’s value to GDP, there is still ample room for growth. Compared with other European markets, the share of the Polish advertising market in GDP, at 0.39%, is substantially lower than the corresponding figure in the United Kingdom (0.79%), Germany (0.66%) and the Czech Republic (0.57%).

Key TV stations

The Polish TV market is dominated by four major terrestrial broadcasters: TVP1, TVP2, TVN and POLSAT. In 2013, their combined share of the commercial audience reached 45.9%. Following the termination of analogue terrestrial TV broadcasting and switch-over to digital terrestrial TV (DTT), 2013 saw an accelerated fragmentation of the TV advertising market. Smaller TV stations available on the multiplexes were growing in importance, chiefly at the expense of the four major broadcasters, which had so far broadcast their programmes on analogue terrestrial television.

In 2013, POLSAT, the Group’s flagship channel, had the second highest all-day audience share of 13.5%, while its average annual broadcast coverage was close to 99%. The Group’s thematic channels had a combined audience share of 7.6%. The Polsat Group’s thematic offering comprises 22 channels covering various market segments (including sports, women’s interest, men’s interest, and news). They are distributed over cable and satellite, and four of them are also available in the terrestrial TV system and included in MUX-2 (POLSAT, Polsat Sport News, TV4 and TV6). POLSAT, the Group’s flagship channel, competes with nationwide channels, such as TVN, TVP1 and TVP2, as well as with a number of minor channels available on digital terrestrial television.

In 2013, POLSAT’s main competitor, TVN, had a 13.96% all-day audience share, while its average annual broadcast coverage was close to 98%. Launched in 1997, TVN belongs to the TVN Group, controlled by the ITI Group. In 2013, thematic channels offered by the TVN Group had a combined all-day audience share of 8.9%.

The TVP Group broadcasts ten channels, including two nationwide channels previously available in analogue distribution – TVP1 and TVP2. The Group is among the major players on the Polish advertising market. In 2013, its main channels had a 9.5% (TVP1) and 8.9% (TVP2) all-day audience share. The broadcast coverage of both stations is close to 100%. TVP’s thematic channels had a 4.6% audience share. Apart from advertising revenue, TVP as the public broadcaster collects additional revenue from television licence fees payable by all TV users pursuant to the Television Licensing Act of April 21st 2005. Despite the regulations preventing TVP from interrupting its programmes to broadcast commercials, in 2012 licence fees accounted for only 18.3% of TVP’s revenue.

Digital terrestrial TV (DTT)

On July 23rd 2013, Poland’s switch-over from analogue TV broadcasting to the Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial (DVB-T) standard was completed. DVB-T is able to accommodate more channels, offer better image and sound quality, and eliminate signal interferences common in analogue broadcasting. The digital TV technology also supports an electronic guide, enabling viewers to build their own definitions of favourite programmes or activate parental control. The standard also enables the provision of additional services such as additional soundtracks (e.g. an additional narrative), or selection of subtitles from the list of available language versions. The Personal Video Recorder (PVR) functionality is another new feature of DVB-T.

Digital broadcasting has different bandwidth requirements from analogue transmission. To be able to receive digital terrestrial television, TV sets must be equipped with a tuner, or a special adapter (set-top box) in the case of older models. Thanks to the DVB-T broadcast transmission and MPEG-4 compression and encoding standards, a single multiplex is able to stream up to seven or eight channels.

There are currently three multiplexes offering free-to-air digital television services, and one offering paid digital television access on mobile devices. Ultimately, the digital TV deployment may involve six multiplexes. A multiplex (“MUX”) is a term used to describe a group of radio and TV channels, possibly with additional services, transmitted digitally over the same bandwidth.

In addition to nationwide multiplexes, TV programming may also be multiplexed locally. Currently, there are two such multiplexes.