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Eastern Europe video spotlight: VICE Media to expand Eastern Europe footprint

Inthis monthly feature, SNL Kagan provides a roundup of news related toover-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in differentEastern European markets.

*VICE Media Inc. isexpanding itsfootprint in Eastern Europe via a partnership with Greece's Antenna Group,according to a March 16 news release. VICE Media, which is already operating inGreece, Serbia and Romania, will launch new editorial and production operationsfor content rollout in Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia,Slovakia and Croatia. Walt DisneyCo. invested an additional $400 million in VICE Media in December2015 to fund the latter's international programming and development.

Content and carriage deals

*Netflix Inc. willretain rights to allfour seasons of political drama "House of Cards" in Poland, DigitalTV Europe reported March 9, citing local reports. Pay TV operator previously had the rights tooffer the program in Poland, while SonyCorp.'s Ale Kino channel had rights to offer the first two seasons.Netflix also kept the rights to "House of Cards" in France, where theshow was previously distributed by CanalPlus SA. Vivendi SAowns nc+ and Canal Plus.

Service launches

*M7 Group SA'sdirect-to-home platform Skylink will launchover-the-top services in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in a month or two,Broadband TV News reported March 10. Board member Jaromir Glisnik said M7 Groupis already offering OTT services in the Benelux countries and Austria. Skylinkalso plans to provide HD versions of its most popular channels by the end of2016.

*Polish cable operator Vectra SAlaunched itssubscription video-on-demand platform named Filmklub, Digital TV Europereported March 10. Filmklub users will be able to access 30 films per month for14.90 Polish zlotys. Movies will be in Polish, with most available in HD.Vectra has struck a partnership with VOD supplier Cineman to provide contentfor Filmklub. The platform's launch follows Netflix's recent debut in Poland.

*Polish cable operator Toya Sp zoostruck a deal with 21st CenturyFox Inc.'s Fox Networks Group to offer video-on-demand service Fox Play, Telecompaperreported March 4. Toya customers with access to Fox and Fox Comedy channelswill be able to view Fox Play on computers, Apple Inc. iPads and iPhones, and devices running onAlphabet Inc.-ownedGoogle Inc.'sAndroid. Toya will also make Fox Play available via its 3G TV receivers. FoxPlay debuted in Poland via Vectra in June 2015.

* Anew direct-to-home service named Flix TV launched in the Czech Republic, Broadband TV Newsreported March 2. Subscribers can reportedly choosefrom four packages: Dobrá TV, which has 57 channels, including 15 in HD; LepsiTV, which has 82 channels, including eight in HD; male-oriented Aktivni TV,which adds six more channels, and; HBO MaxPak, featuring five channels. Thenew platform is powered by TelekomAustria Group, a unit of AméricaMóvil SAB de CV.

More news

*Polish public broadcaster TelewizjaPolska SA will cease providingits own content to other platforms via ad-based video on demand from the middleof 2016, Broadband TV News reported March 29, citing Wirtualne Media. BoardMember Maciej Stanecki said TVP will honor its existing content deals withon-demand services such as VOD.pland Cyfrowy Polsat until theyexpire in mid-2016. Stanecki also said TVP will focus on developing its ownon-demand service, which is also based on the AVOD model.

*The Czech Republic's Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, or RRTV,issued broadcastlicenses to Time Warner Inc.'sHBO Europe, Broadband TV News reported March 7, citing Parabola. The licenseswill allow HBO Europe to distribute the HBO3 channel via satellite in Hungary,as well as through special transmission systems in the Czech Republic, Hungaryand Slovakia. RRTV also granted licenses for HBO2 and HBO3 Poland, HBO3 Romaniaand HBO2 and HBO3 Adria. Meanwhile, mobile operator Mtel inked a deal with HBOEurope to distribute HBO3 in Bulgaria, according to the report, citing Capital.