The TV industry is undergoing dramatic change, driven by the speed of technical innovation and globalisation.
Especially here in Europe, where the traditional players maintain that they are well positioned for the changes to come, while complaining about the tight, multilayer regulatory framework that limits their capacity to react to the fast-moving ”new entrants” from across the ocean – coming out of nowhere or, better said, out of the non-regulated www.
What with Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, the internet is, without doubt, US-dominated, and they continue to flood their European rivals with competitive platforms: Apple TV, You Tube Channels, LoveFilm, Netflix, you name it: some of these threats are still vague – while others have already turned into serious challenges.
Some examples: Amazon can be expected to cross-fund its VoD platform “LoveFilms” similarly to its e-book business. As a result, the service can be offered to consumers so cheaply that it is difficult for anyone to compete. Netflix is soon to launch in Germany – this coming autumn, if the rumors are true; pay-TV platform Sky Deutschland AG has, in addition to its catch-up service “Sky go”, recently launched its VoD service “Snap”, while ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, which operates the VoD service “maxdome”, has already secured program licenses for some time to come. If this strategy really stands the challenge remains to be seen!
The TV license market is globalising. International co-production is becoming increasingly important, especially for the production of top quality content and for traditional channels to secure their influence in the value chain and – more importantly – exclusivity for their networks. International TV series today are being viewed on pay and VoD platforms before a free-to-air channel has even had the chance to get hold of them. This makes it somewhat bizarre that current negotiations of the free trade treaty between the US and Europe would seem to exclude the cultural industries. Even then, the influence of the treaty will be immense on these “shielded” sectors, as examples of the global content market shows The ProSieben Group, for instance, can only expand its footprint in the US content-production industry by increasingly buying majority stakes in international production companies via its Red Arrow holding.
These examples merely point out some major TV industry trends resulting from technical (and global) convergence. The EU is still “processing” its green book on Digital Convergence, which may, eventually lead to a new directive for the TV industry. De-regulation is essential for the European industry if it is to stay competitive in the global marketplace. However, this process takes a long time: seven years, as a rule, to implement a new EU directive– that’s if things go well. What does this mean to a fast-moving global industry?
On March 27th, the fourth edition of the European conference eur§reg, to be held in Zürich will again tackle these issues in top profile panel discussions. What are the limits to globalization? More info on the agenda and how to register: www.euoreg.eu