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HBO GO debuts in Poland; RTL Group to launch VOD in Croatia, Hungary

In this monthly Eastern Europe Video Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in various eastern European markets.

TOP NEWS

* Time Warner Inc.'s HBO (US) launched its stand-alone subscription service HBO GO in Poland. The service is offered to consumers directly, without requiring a subscription to another pay TV operator.

* RTL Group has unveiled plans to launch video-on-demand services in Belgium, Croatia and Hungary over the coming months. The new VOD services will rely on Groupe M6's 6play platform, RTL said in a news release. Company CEO Bert Habets said the launches are in line with RTL's goal of investing more in on-demand services in countries where the company has "strong families of channels." RTL also said a key priority is to expand the reach of its on-demand services, combined with investments in local and exclusive content. It further vowed to develop its multiplatform networks and continue investing in advertising technologies. RTL unit RTL Croatia previously eyed a January debut for its revamped VOD service named RTL Play.

Content deals

* Eleven Sports Network Ltd. said March 12 that it secured a three-year extension for its exclusive rights deal to broadcast games from Italian soccer league Serie A in Poland. The extended agreement, which will last until 2021, also allows Eleven Sports to broadcast exclusive game highlights and near-live clips on social media platforms.

Service launches

* Polish operator P4, operating under the Play brand, has begun offering Eleven Sports Network's channels to its TV Play Now subscribers under its mini and basic packages, Telecompaper reported March 19, citing Media2.pl.

* Media Group Ukraine partnered with mobile operator Kyivstar to launch Kyivstar Futbol TV, a soccer-themed multiscreen streaming service, Broadband TV News reported March 1. The OTT platform will offer live broadcasts of soccer games including match highlights, soccer TV channels and soccer-related news.

* Cyfrowy Polsat SA added a package called Ipla HBO to its subscription VOD service Ipla, as part of the platform's revamp, Broadband TV News reported Feb. 22. The new offering features a number of HBO and AXN channels.

More news

* About 50 European service providers and media companies are requesting the European Union to reconsider the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, which is set to take effect May 25, Digital TV Europe reported March 8. The group said the rule will mostly benefit giant internet companies and will cause a "major disadvantage for emerging companies," as well as the providers of advertising-dependent services in the region. Orange SA, Altice NV, Bouygues Telecom SA and TF1 Group are part of the said group.

* Netflix Inc. said production work has begun on its first Polish original series, "1983." The series, produced by The Kennedy/Marshall Co. and The House Media Co., is expected to be launched globally on the streaming service later this year, the company said March 7.

* The European Commission on March 1 unveiled recommendations for tech and social media companies to take down illegal terrorist-related content online within an hour after authorities have flagged the said content to the tech firms. The commission also urges the digital giants to be more transparent in reporting specific actions taken.