RTL spurned Hulu over advertising dispute

The RTL chief executive, Gerhard Zeiler, explained that the broadcaster had not done a deal with Hulu because its US owners would not allow the company to sell its own advertising.

Zeiler told the Royal Television Society that aggregators such as Hulu, which is owned by US media companies News Corporation, NBC Universal, Disney and private equity company Providence Equity Partners, would fail unless they allow broadcasters to promote their channels rather than individual programmes on their video-on-demand service. Hulu is yet to launch in Europe.

“Two years ago Hulu came to Europe and after two years they have not done any deal because all the broadcasters have said ‘we won’t let you turn our [advertising] euros or pounds into cents’,” Zeiler said. “We said, ‘we want to sell our own advertising, we want to determine the price’ and that’s not something Hulu could to deliver to us. We can’t allow someone else to disintermediate. In a universe with one thousand different choices you need guidance.”

He added that channel brands are more vital than ever in a multichannel environment, where new distribution platforms such as internet TV are taking root. RTL, the former owner of Channel 5 in the UK, is Europe’s largest advertiser-funded commercial broadcaster, with 41 TV networks and 31 radio stations in 10 countries.