Netflix Testing Video Games in Poland

Netflix has begun rollout of mobile video games, testing the concept with branded “Stranger Things” games in Poland. The American series has proved to be one of Netflix most popular and critically acclaimed original shows, with a fourth season launching in 2022.

The games, Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3 are available in Polish and ad-free to mobile subscribers using Android devices.

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“Let’s talk about Netflix games,” read a translated blog post. “Starting today, users in Poland can try out two mobile games on Android. We are at an early stage and we still have a lot of work to do in the coming months, but this is our first step.”

Netflix earlier this year announced the hire of video game executive Mike Verdu to spearhead the streamer’s online gaming strategy.

Discovery, U.S. Decry Poland’s ‘Troubling’ Media Crackdown

Discovery Inc., which is seeking to co-own and control WarnerMedia, is facing the possibility of being barred from owning and operating a television station in Poland. The nationalist ruling political party is trying to enact legislation that would prohibit any foreign company from owning a majority stake in local TV broadcasters, including over-the-top media.

Discovery owns and operates TVN, a Polish broadcaster that often airs stories critical of the populist “Law and Justice” right-wing party that spearheads the coalition government. Discovery is looking to expand its branded Discovery+ streaming service throughout Europe.

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The ruling party says the proposed legislation is aimed at preventing overarching influence from Russia and China, but critics contend the move is designed to curb press freedoms and government scrutiny.

“Poland’s future as a democratic country in the international arena and its credibility in the eyes of investors depend on this,” Discovery said in a statement first reported by the AP.

The action has drawn notice from the U.S. State Department, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who urged Polish President Andrzej Duda not to sign the bill.

“The United States is deeply troubled by draft legislation passed today by the lower house of the Polish parliament that targets the most watched independent news station, which is also one of the largest U.S. investments in the country,” Blinken wrote in a statement. “Poland has worked for decades to foster a vibrant and free media. This draft legislation would significantly weaken the media environment the Polish people have worked so long to build. This draft legislation threatens media freedom and could undermine Poland’s strong investment climate.”

Poland, a NATO ally, is home to more than 4,500 U.S. soldiers.

Netflix to Amend ‘Devil Next Door’ Miniseries After Polish Complaints

Netflix Nov. 15 confirmed it would make changes to historical maps showcased in original miniseries, “The Devil Next Door,” following complaints from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Polish subscribers.

“Devil Next Door” showcases former Cleveland auto worker John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-American who was accused in the 1980’s of being a notorious Nazi concentration camp guard.

The well-researched series includes locations of concentration camps outlined on a map of modern-day Poland — not the former territory occupied by German Nazis during World War II.

Morawiecki and others took to social media to complain the maps suggested Poland had contributed to the camps operated by German S.S. units where millions of mostly Jews were exterminated.

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Netflix, in a Polish tweet, said it stood by the miniseries’ filmmakers but would make changes to the maps to better reflect the time period of the series.

“In order to provide more information to our members about the important issues raised in this documentary and to avoid any misunderstanding, in the coming days we will be adding text to some of the maps featured in the series,” Netflix tweeted.

“This will make it clearer that the extermination and concentration camps in Poland were built and operated by the German Nazi regime who invaded the country and occupied it from 1939 to 1945.”

The Polish government thanked Netflix for its quick response to the sensitive issue.

“We appreciate that @netflix raises difficult and important topics. We are sure that historical accuracy will be essential in your future productions,” tweeted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Demjanjuk, who had his guilty verdict overturned by the Israel Supreme Court, was later found guilty by a German court for contributing to the deaths of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Poland. He died in 2012 at the age of 91 in a German nursing home awaiting his appeal.

 

Poland Seeks Correction to Netflix Nazi Death Camp Guard Documentary

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has asked Netflix to make changes to a documentary that features a map showing Nazi death camps inside the borders of modern day Poland.

At issue are World War II concentration camps built on Polish soil used to intern and kill millions of Polish Jews and depicted in the miniseries The Devil Next Door about John Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. autoworker who was accused of being a brutal guard at the camps.

In the series, the camps are shown in a map of current-day Poland, suggesting the country was partially responsible for their construction and operation.

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Morawiecki, in a Facebook post, wrote a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings outlining the historical inconsistencies in the series.

“As my country did not even exist at that time as an independent state, and millions of Pols were murdered at these sites, this element of The Devil Next Door is nothing short of rewriting history,” Morawiecki wrote.

“It may be minor mistakes for their creators, but they are very harmful to Poland, and it is our task to react strongly. I hope that my arguments will meet the understanding of the people who manage the Netflix.”

A Netflix representative told Reuters the service was “urgently” looking into the matter.

Ukraine-born Demjanjuk was convicted by a German court in 2011 for contributing to the deaths of 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Poland. The 91-year-old died in 2012 in German nursing home before his appeal could be heard.

Eastern Europe to Top 26 Million SVOD Subscribers by 2024

Eastern Europe is finally getting the over-the-top video bug.

New data from Digital TV Research says the region will have 26.19 million SVOD subscriptions by 2024; up from 10 million subs at the end of 2018.

Russia will account for 8.77 million subscriptions, with Poland adding 6.32 million. Together, they will account 58% of the region’s total.

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The report suggests Russia became the SVOD subscription [an SVOD subscriber can have more than one subscription] market leader in 2018 by overtaking Poland. However, it will take until 2023 for Russia to generate greater SVOD revenue than Poland as its subscribers pay lower fees.

By comparison, Netflix will have 8 million subs across 22 Eastern European countries by 2024, double its 2018 result and representing 30% of the regional total.

“The imminent launches of both Disney+ and Apple TV+ will further boost the sector,” principal analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “We forecast nearly 3 million subscribers for Disney+ by 2024. Apple TV+ will be more modest.”

Netflix Expecting $15B in Subscription Fees in 2018

Subscription streaming video pioneer Netflix reportedly expects to generate $15 billion in user fees in 2018 – almost twice the $8 billion it will spend on original content.

That from co-founder Reed Hastings, who was in Los Angeles at a corporate tech event, as reported by Nikkei Asian Review.

Of course, with 117 million subscribers globally – and growing daily – revenue growth is the ongoing driver behind the Netflix’s original content ambitions – and admiration on Wall Street.

Befitting Hasting’s singular vision, he brushed off a question about whether Disney’s pending acquisition of 20th Century Fox posed a threat, saying the only threat facing Netflix is complacency.

“The threat is, probably, that we just slack off,” he said.

The dotcom billionaire reiterated Netflix has no desire to pursue live sports – unlike rival Amazon Prime Video – focusing instead original episodic programing and feature films.

Indeed, Netflix announced its first original (and language) programs for SVOD services in Turkey and Poland – the former beginning principal photography March 7.

The 10-episode super hero fantasy follows Hakan, a young shopkeeper whose modern world gets turned upside down when he learns he’s connected to a secret, ancient order, tasked with protecting Istanbul.

Separately, original Polish political drama, “1983,” features Robert Więckiewicz and Maciej Musiał as a disgraced police investigator and an idealistic law student who stumble upon a conspiracy that changed the course of the nation and kept the communist Iron Curtain standing.

The series is directed by 1992 Oscar-nominee Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa).

Hastings said Netflix would continue to create its own business opportunities going forward, rather than mimic trends.

“To follow a competitor? Never, never, never!” he said.