Premiere restructures thematic channels

Jörn Krieger

German pay-TV operator Premiere has started ringing in the changes in connection with its planned July relaunch. Thematic channels Discovery Geschichte (Discovery History) and Animal Planet will be removed, while National Geographic Channel joins the platform.

The way for the changes was made clear by a new carriage contract with TV operator Discovery Networks Deutschland. According to the agreement, only flagship channel Discovery Channel and its high definition sister service Discovery HD will remain on Premiere’s platform. Discovery Geschichte was closed down as a standalone service on May 15. Selected content from the history-themed channel was moved to Discovery Networks’ free-to-air men’s channel DMAX, where it has been offered as a branded programme window since May 16.

Animal Planet will still be available on Premiere until June 30, after which time the channel will only be distributed on other pay-TV platforms. Discovery Channel will also be available from the beginning of July on competing pay-TV platforms. Until now all four pay-TV channels operated by Discovery Networks were available exclusively on Premiere.

By scrapping the exclusive carriage deal, Discovery Networks will probably receive smaller payments per subscriber, but on the other hand it gains the freedom to offer its channels to competing pay-TV platforms, thereby creating new income sources. For Premiere the agreement probably brings financial relief, however the exclusivity of the Discovery channels and therefore additional value for subscribers has been lost. With Discovery Geschichte and Animal Planet two attractive channels which have for years enriched Premiere’s offer will disappear.

The new entrant at Premiere is National Geographic Channel, which launched in the family package on May 16. The channel is already distributed on several German pay-TV platforms via cable, satellite and ADSL. Within the industry it is speculated that sister service Nat Geo Wild could replace Animal Planet on Premiere from July. Documentary channel Spiegel Geschichte, which will be launched in summer by TV entrepreneurs Jan Mojto and Patrick Hörl along with production company Spiegel TV, will fill the gap left by Discovery Geschichte.

The agreements with Discovery Networks and National Geographic Channel reflect the new platform strategy at Premiere in which exclusivity will play a significantly reduced role. At the centre of the new offer structure is a large basic package with subscribers able to additionally order soccer Bundesliga, sports, movie and HDTV packages.