Behind the Screens (II): Commercial broadcasters explain the new dynamics of today’s TV business

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European commercial broadcasters organised an informative seminar in Brussels to discuss the impact of the changing viewing habits on the TV business and to explain how media groups operate in the digital era. From a vibrant debate after presentations, it can be concluded that diversity and richness of innovative services as well as ways of offering high quality TV content in response to the consumers demand is of key importance.

Rikard Steiber, CEO of MTGx and Viaplay, SVOD service in the Nordics explained that the success of the service does not only lay in the high quality content that people love to watch, but also in a great users’ experience via all existing devices. He emphasised that on one hand content is the king and distribution on the other is the queen. Therefore, the core aim of Viaplay service is to make “everyone happy”.

Chiara Tosato, Commercial Director of Infinity (Mediaset) explained the rationales behind Infinity, a video on demand service in Italy, offering more than 5,000 titles: movies, TV series and cartoons. The demand for OTT standalone services is expected to grow double digit over the next years, and Infinity allows Mediaset widening its audience and addressing the part of audience which is interested in new ways of accessing TV content, beyond TV screen. According to the latest statistics, 52% of viewed content is played on a main screen device in Italian homes, 20% on PCs, 18% on tablets and 10% on a smartphone.

Commercial broadcasters invest billions of Euros in high quality content every year and they play a key role contributing to European culture, society and economy as a whole. A great example of high popularity from the content perspective (despite being limited to German speaking territories) can be given by ProSiebensat1.

Heiko Zysk, VP Governmental Relations & Head of European Affairs at ProSiebensat.1, emphasized that in Germany, TV still dominates the media consumption while digital channels are highly fragmented. However, as the business models evolve, ProSiebensat.1 decided to start focusing their measurements on overall video usage rather than on TV consumption only.

One of the main current as well as future challenges for European commercial media companies identified at the conference was the Internet playing the role of “global technology”. How does RTL Nederland cope with this situation was thoroughly explained by Arno Otto, Managing Director of Digital Media, once again emphasising the main importance of investing and producing original content.

Ross Biggam, ACT Director General summed up the panel discussion by explaining that “ACT companies are now better seen as cross-platform media groups than traditional broadcasters. Although there is complexity that linear television remains stubbornly popular, with our viewers still watching as much linear television as ever, advertising, while fluctuating, remains stable across Europe, and pay and on demand revenues are increasing. The variety and multitude of the new services being launched by our members nicely showcase the adaptability and dynamics of how European media groups operate nowadays”.

The above event was the second one in series under the Behind the Screens umbrella, organized by the Association of Commercial Television in Europe together with our members. The aim of the season is to move beyond regulatory and policy issues and instead explore the role of television content in the lives of European citizens – whether news, sport or entertainment.

The inaugural Behind the Screens event took place in the European Parliament at the beginning of October 2014 where the debate was focused on the challenges of news reporting from the Ukrainian conflict. It attracted over 100 MEPs, EU officials and broadcasters from around Europe. Read more

Behind the Screens III is planned to take place in May 2015 in Brussels and it will offer a post MIP-debrief and showcase how TV content crosses frontiers. More information will be published soon.