ANGA COM 2014: German players not afraid of Netflix

May 21, 2014 15.14 Europe/London By JÖRN KRIEGER AT ANGA COM 2014

ANGA COM 2014 VOD panelThe German media industry remains relaxed following the announcement of the launch of global video-on-demand (VOD) market leader Netflix in Germany at the end of the year.

“We are not afraid of Netflix,” Holger Enßlin, chief officer legal, regulatory & distribution at Sky Deutschland, said at a panel discussion at cable, satellite and broadband trade fair ANGA COM in Cologne. The huge excitement about Netflix was based on its great success in its home country USA where the company successfully placed a “marketing stunt” with its original production House of Cards. In Germany, Sky Deutschland holds the rights to all seasons of the series.

The launch of Netflix would further fuel the trend towards paid content, expects Enßlin. The cake would become bigger, new target groups would be served. With its own online video library Snap, Sky would be well prepared for the competition, stressed Enßlin.

Nicole Agudo Berbel, senior vice president distribution sales & key account management at ProSiebenSat.1, also remains relaxed. Through maxdome, the market leader among the VOD platforms in Germany, the commercial TV group has been present in the market for eight years. Agudo Berbel is convinced that there will be enough space for all players: The potential of the German VOD market was “by far not yet exploited”.

Agudo Berbel announced that the ProSiebenSat.1 app for smartphones and tablets would launch shortly: 7TV will offer the six free-to-air channels of the media company as live-streams as well as the accompanying catch-up TV services for a monthly fee of €2.99.

Nick Brambring, CEO of Zattoo, is sceptical whether Netflix can repeat its US success in Germany. The market conditions were different as cable television was considerably more expensive in the USA than in Germany.

While Zattoo recently doubled the monthly subscription fee for its commercial TV channel package, Magine TV offers the channels for free in Germany. The new, “aggressive” competitor was not “advertising-financed, but investor-financed”, said Brambring, adding that he can’t imagine that the free-of-charge model will be kept permanently. Sooner or later, Magine TV would probably convert its platform to a business model with subscription packages or advertising.

Rolf Wierig, vice president content at Kabel Deutschland, announced that the cable operator plans to launch a mobile TV offering with linear TV channels and on-demand content. Negotiations for the service would be underway with all major TV broadcasters.

The acquisition of the cable operator by Vodafone already shows concrete effects: The unified company aims to convert Vodafone ADSL customers living in Kabel Deutschland’s coverage area to the cable products (TV, internet, telephony) as the cable network was more powerful, said Wierig. The others will receive the IPTV offering Vodafone TV, internet and telephony through the ADSL network.