German public broadcaster ZDF wants to approach the Federal Cartel Office to find out whether the conditions for a joint OTT platform of the public broadcasters or a platform together with other broadcasters have changed.
This was announced by ZDF’s general director Dr Thomas Bellut (pictured) at the press conference following the ZDF board assembly in Mainz on June 29, 2018. Bellut recalled that a few years ago the Cartel Office blocked joint OTT initiatives by ARD and ZDF (project ‘Germany’s Gold’) as well as RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 (project ‘Amazonas’). The market situation has, however, “changed rapidly” in the meantime with even stronger players with high concentration potential on the market, Bellut stressed.
The ZDF director confirmed that ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery invited the Mainz-based broadcaster to participate in their planned joint OTT platform, but refrained from making a concrete assessment because the offer was still in preparation.
In principle, ZDF believes that a joint platform set up by several broadcasters is the best way forward: “One thing is certain: ZDF is still looking for a platform where German content – fiction, documentaries – can be offered. We are convinced that only a collaboration with many broadcasters makes it possible to offer content in a meaningful way,” Bellut underlined.
Referring to the several current proposals for joint streaming platforms, Bellut said that the first questions asked in this context were always: “How much does it cost, how much staff do you need, does the platform have the chance to be really successful in the long term?” Also, a distinction has to be made, explained Bellut: “Is it a cooperation between public broadcasters offering free content to users? That is relatively simple. When it comes to fee-based video-on-demand (VOD), it always becomes more difficult,” Bellut said. “The model must be right.” Currently, he explained, ZDF prioritises its own catch-up service ZDFmediathek followed by third-party platforms.
ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery announced on June 25, 2018 that they intend to build the leading German OTT platform by combining their existing streaming joint venture 7TV, VOD service maxdome and the Eurosport Player. ARD, ZDF and RTL were invited to participate. The service modelled on US platform Hulu is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019. In addition to live-streams of TV channels, there will be catch-up content as well as Hollywood movies and sports. A free-of-charge, advertising-supported offer, a commercial-free subscription service and premium packages with exclusive sports and films are planned. The platform is expected to reach 10 million users in the first two years.
RTL reacts rather cautiously to the invitation by ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, but does not categorically rule out participation. “Basically, we are open to cooperations and alliances if they fit our business model and if they can be legally constituted,” a spokesman of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland told Broadband TV News. “We are committed to our our own strategy, the expansion of TV NOW, and do not want to lose speed in the process. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of us having talks.” ARD declined to comment on the plans by ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery.