How far can Netflix go in Hungary?

2016. 03. 30.

Netflix, an online TV service that has been exceedingly popular in the United States for several years, was launched in Hungary in January 2016. Why is it so important? The company could reshuffle the Hungarian market of conventional TV subscriptions and online video services. It may satisfy the needs of TV and movie aficionados by offering a wide range of programs round the clock legally, without advertisements. eNET’s latest research shows just how dangerous Netflix is to TV service providers, and what consumers think about the service.

Watching movies and films: TV subscription, video sharing and torrent

In February 2016, eNET examined where and how adult Hungarian Internet users preferred to watch TV programs and movies. As many as 86% of the respondents used online video sharing portals at least once a month. These have the advantage of being free of charge and available round the clock. And three out of 10 people download movies from torrent sites without paying at least once a month. Nevertheless, 90% of adult Internet users have a TV subscription, which means that TV remains the most popular screen for motion pictures. Having a sports channel in the subscription package was important to one third of the respondents. TV series made in Hungary plays a less important role in choosing TV subscription: only 16% of the respondents said that it is a key aspect for them.

Dubbed or subtitled – that is the question

Language knowledge is an oft-discussed topic in Hungary because the most popular TV series and movies are originally not in Hungarian; so this issue was also included in the questionnaire. Almost half of the respondents are willing to watch movies in Hungarian only, while the other half find subtitles acceptable. But only two per cent are ready to watch programs or movies with foreign-language audio without subtitles. Only one in seven respondents download subtitles from the Internet, which means that they watch dubbed or subtitled films to begin with. So the mono-lingual inclination of Hungarians could be an issue to Netflix as they currently have very limited amount of content dubbed or subtitled in Hungarian.

Streaming and VOD services in Hungary

A wide range of programs free of advertisements is what adult Internet users expect from providers of streaming or VOD services. Round-the-clock availability is also deemed important, i.e. programs that can be watched any time and anywhere. Conventional TV subscription cannot fully meet these needs, unlike the new solutions. Various streaming and VOD services are already competing to gain and keep viewers. It is “RTL Most” (“RTL Now”) that has proven the most popular amongst the respondents, presumably because it’s a free of charge service of one of the most popular Hungarian TV-stations. This is followed by HBO and DIGI Online. All three service providers offer round-the-clock access with wide range of program.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

Let’s see what Netflix gives us! First and foremost, it offers just what viewers want: a wide program range without advertisements, available on any device connected to the Internet. Still, few Hungarians are aware of the service as yet: when asked about online video streaming, only one in 10 respondents mentioned Netflix without a clue; but when they had to choose familiar service providers from a list, three people marked Netflix. The users who have heard about the service are aware that it offers motion pictures any time on any net-connected device, without conventional TV subscription, but subject to a price.

Even though anyone can try the service free of charge for one month, only six per cent have taken advantage of this option yet. But another 55% plan to give Netflix a chance in the near future.

About 16% of those who had heard about Netflix only in the survey would like to try it, while almost 23% are hesitant: they would prefer to test the service if the programs were dubbed or subtitled in Hungarian, or if the subscription fee was lower.

The future of Netflix in Hungary

Watching TV series or movies on a television screen remains one of the most popular pastimes in Hungary. Netflix has joined conventional TV service providers as a new market player that offers commercial TV programs without advertisements, placing more emphasis on consumers’ needs, and amalgamating conventional TV subscription with the advantages of video sharing pages. But Netflix is not currently a major threat to Hungarian service providers because relatively few people are taking advantage of the free test period. What could change this situation? Primarily dubbed content, but at least Hungarian subtitles, and also a lower subscription fee and a wider program range (similarly to the offer in the USA).

However, it would be a mistake to jump to conclusions about the success of Netflix in just two months. Many Hungarians are about to try the service, and adding dubbed videos could also boost the image of Netflix.