Collaboration is the key to success for broadcasters within the battle against global digital giants. Which was one of the key messages from Alexander von Woikowsky, Md at 7TV, as he told delegates at Videoscape Europe this week: \”We need alliances, alliances, alliances. If we do not do this, because of the aggressive market strategies, [of companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime] the American players will over-run us.\”

7TV is one of the most important examples of European broadcaster collaboration within the digital space: the joint-venture between ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery was established being an open platform for other broadcasters to become listed on, with Axel Springer and also the private German sports broadcaster SPORT1 the very first non-shareholder third-parties on the platform.

As we reported previously, the corporate structure at 7TV is designed so it can hold more shareholders. At the moment, ProSiebenSat.1's linear channels and catch-up content and Discovery's free-to-air channels are on the platform. Eurosport Player (a part of Eurosport, owned by Discovery) and the German SVOD service maxdome (of ProSiebenSat.1 Media) are generally visiting the woking platform next year.

One of the stated objectives for 7TV, when it premiered, was the creation of a 'broadcaster-friendly' digital home and somewhere that local production companies and European studios could reach an extensive demographic inside a multi-thematic offering without selling rights to the giant U.S. OTT providers. At Videoscape Europe in London, Nicole Agudo Berbel, Chief Distribution Officer for ProSiebenSat.1 Media, alluded to wider efforts around localised collaboration.

Confirming the importance of alliances for that incumbent television industry in Europe, she revealed that ProSiebenSat.1 Media may begin investing more heavily in local content. \”The global players lack strength from our market and that we can fill that [position]. I think that [strategy] works well for [maintaining] younger audiences, and on the company plan side. There are lots of new platforms entering the marketplace, and others consolidating their position, and that we have our own OTT platform to bolster,\” she added.

Berbel, who is accountable for all external platform relationships across broadcast and streaming environments, stressed how important it is that ProSiebenSat.1 Media content reaches audiences through all of the platforms individuals are now using. The broadcaster will cooperate with providers like Amazon and Netflix, too, confirming the complicated nature of modern distribution.

ProSiebenSat.1 Media has various owned-and-operated digital destinations, including its websites, and 7TV isn't intended to replace these. Nevertheless, Berbel confirmed: \”We are placing a large amount of effort into making 7TV successful. We would like the app in all the devices that young adults use. There is lots of promotion for that app.\”

7TV prepares both its shareholders for a more digital future. \”We aren't seeing any cannibalisation [of standard TV viewing] from OTT in Germany yet, but that might be coming,\” Berbel noted. \”We are attempting to prevent it [any decline in overall ProSiebenSat.1 Media audiences] by enriching and enlarging our portfolio on all distribution points. As a company, we are moving towards a 'consumer-first' and 'digital-first' approach.\”

This means having a bigger digital presence but additionally proactively encouraging digital viewing. \”We wish to concentrate on digital-first releases for shows, 'airing' content on digital platforms well ahead of time of linear channels, to improve digital consumption,\” she revealed. 7TV will be among the beneficiaries out of this policy.

There are potential backoffice and front-end (app design and lifecycle management, consumer experience and UI design, etc.) synergies for that broadcasters involved with 7TV, if they collaborate on a single 'app'. von Woikowsky acknowledged some internal efficiencies at ProSiebenSat.1 Media as maxdome comes under the same roof. But cost-savings have never been area of the business case for this offering, he added. \”This is about the digital means of our shareholders.\”

ProSiebenSat.1 Media is aware of the risk that one of its major shows could one day be snatched by Netflix or Amazon Prime, and believes the existence of 7TV, supplying the streaming scale they expect, cuts down on the chances of this. \”We are actually trying to develop a platform that can help the broadcast industry to locate a digital home,\” von Woikowsky confirmed.


Editor's Comment

Greater collaboration is firmly on the diary for the broadcast industry, and not just in Europe. A few of the recent initiatives concentrate on advertising tech and purchasers, such as the European Broadcast Exchange (EBX), combining Mediaset, TF1, ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Channel 4.

RTL AdConnect combines eight RTL broadcasters but additionally third-parties like Medialaan, ITV, RAI and Goldbach Media to assist advertisers find audiences across multi-broadcaster inventory. OpenAP is really a U.S. platform where Fox Networks, Turner, Viacom, NBCU and Univision provide a common planning, audience delivery and reporting platform for audience-based TV buying. Some Canadian broadcasters are talking in the prospects of a Canadian form of OpenAP.

Looking beyond advertising, a shared streaming/OTT platform has been proposed by RTVE, Mediaset Espa~na and Atresmedia in Spain. As explained above, 7TV is really a shared streaming platform centered on the German market. BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm from the BBC) and ITV are managing a joint-venture SVOD service in the U.S.and Canada called BritBox.

All of these are essential types of how, working together, broadcasters can improve their competitive position for digital/linear advertising sales or content distribution. The most important, in our opinion, are the ones that concentrate on a domestic market, since that is in which you require the most delicate balance between collaboration and competition.

That makes 7TV one of the most important digital broadcaster initiatives today, while OpenAP stands out as the most notable advertising broadcaster cooperation anywhere.

If you are looking at broadcaster advertising collaborations, take a look at Future TV Advertising Forum working in london this December, where there exists a session focused on the topic. Very senior executives from NBCU and Fox Networks will also be around the agenda and, among other things, will be discussing OpenAP.

You can see the entire agenda here.