The opening day of what is now ANGA COM (Cologne June 4 – 6) is the traditional habitat of the elephants, the heavy hitters of the German media sector, who sit on the opening panel and lock tusks.
Playing to the gallery, Mike Fries told the audience in the new larger room, that Germany accounted for 40% of the company’s growth. Fries would of course like that figure to be much larger, just that the German competition authorities don’t want to recreate the old position of a single nationwide cable operator.
Of course in Germany things are never that simple. A single operator would not account for the hundreds of small operators that feed off the larger networks or the Eutelsat KabelKiosk platform.
Back in the day, it was Deutsche Telekom that ran the utility-like cable operation, before it was sold off into regional groupings. As German cable becomes more commercial, we can’t yet go so far as to say innovative, the regulators don’t want a single company ruling the roost.
This is somewhat peculiar given that Sky covers the whole of Germany via satellite and Deutsche Telekom is back in the TV business with its T-Entertain IPTV platform.
Elsewhere, the elephants were finding the jungle somewhat familiar. Ongoing disputes between the content providers, public and private, as to who should pay what to who.
Like in Britain the public broadcasters are dominant in force and quantity, the private sector doesn’t like them coming onto commercial territory, and the cable operators are exasperated by their volume.
There are also two. Both the ARD and ZDF have a suite of digital channels and when a co-operative venture, a youth-skewing channel akin to BBC Three, was suggested it came as no surprise that it might take until 2018 to get it going.
Indeed, the UK appears to be giving the German operators considerable inspiration. Sky Deutschland has secured the rights to the German Bundesliga, but Christian Seifert, chairman, DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga, has been eying up the BT Sport venture that will see the UK telco giving away live Premier League football to its broadband subscribers. It was a curiosity having the rights held up as an example.
Having signed up to pay €485.7 million per season for his Bundesliga coverage, Sky Deutschland CEO was a happy elephant.