Bratislava, Slovakia – This week marks a big victory for Netflix subscribers in Slovakia.
Until recently, Slovak Netflix users were not able to access films and TV series dubbed or subtitled in Czech language. Many considered this is a gross injustice, as only 25 titles are dubbed or subtitled in Slovak language out of the 4.500 available to the country’s Netflix subscribers, compared to several hundred titles dubbed or subtitled in Czech – and keeping in mind that Czech and Slovak are arguably as close as two languages can get and almost entirely mutually understandable. Despite Netflix pledging to regularly add new Slovak content, the last subtitles added on the streaming platform date back to 2017, according to local daily Dennik N.
Unhappy movie lovers decided to take matters into their own hands and launched the petition #NetflixCzechoslovakia to right this wrong. Thanks to a good media coverage and to the support from like-minded Netflix users, more than 5.000 people eventually signed the petition asking for Slovak Netflix subscribers to be given access to Czech-dubbed or subtitled content. “Netflix does not communicate with our region, and that is why we have launched the petition”, said blogger Ľubomír Tuchscher.
And on Monday, the administrator of the Filmtoro movie website Tomáš Vyskočil – who co-launched the petition – announced that the initiative was successful: Slovakia’s Netflix users now have access to movies and series with Czech dubbing or subtitles.”It’s a huge success for Slovakia”, he wrote, even though “we will not know exactly whether this decision was a result of the petition” until Netflix officially confirms it. The U.S. streaming platform had repeatedly ignored past requests on the matter and has yet to officially respond to the petition. Whereas Netflix counts roughly 50.000 subscribers in the Czech Republic, there are only 15.000 Netflix users in Slovakia, a too small amount according to experts to go through the trouble of translating and dubbing the entire Czech content into Slovak language.
Besides Czech services platforms operating cross-border (such as Aerovod, Mall TV, Stream, etc.), other similar international services and on-line streaming platforms have improved the availability of their content to both Czech and Slovak users. On iTunes, for instance, Czech and Slovak subscribers can watch nearly half of the over 5.000 titles available in their own languages. HBO has already granted the access to their Czech version to Slovak subscribers and “all titles contain Czech subtitles”, according to HBO representative in Slovakia Bohuš Mäsiarik.
Netflix has been available in the Czech Republic since 2016, upending the consumption habits of tens of thousands of Czech viewers in the course of a few years in a country where half of the population reportedly admitted illegally downloading movies and series on the internet. In May last year, the first festival dedicated to online TV and series content was held in Brno: the ‘Serial Killer’ festival, inspired by Berlinale’s Drama Series Day and Cannes Festival’s TV section, showcased TV fiction from all across Europe as well as series produced by Netflix, HBO and Czech Television, among others.