Media: Private television with new bosses on a streaming course

A revolution is taking place in the German television market.

Media: Private television with new bosses on a streaming course

A revolution is taking place in the German television market. As is so often the case, the drivers are companies in the USA. Today, private television no longer only has to compete with public television programs. Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Apple are the global streaming competition that is spreading in this country.

RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 have to invest quickly in the digital streaming business, which will not be profitable for them for some time to come. Both listed companies are in the same boat. But things are not going smoothly everywhere.

There is a lull in advertising, with which TV companies traditionally generate revenue. The crises - energy supply, Ukraine war and corona pandemic - are causing problems for the German economy.

Bert Habets becomes ProSiebenSat.1 boss

Now there is news from the TV houses. ProSiebenSat.1 boss Rainer Beaujean, who has only been chairman of the board since the beginning of the year, surprisingly vacates his post. The TV group in Unterföhring near Munich will in future be managed by ex-RTL manager Bert Habets. For decades, the 51-year-old worked in important positions at the competitor, for example he built up the RTL streaming service Videoland in the Netherlands.

Habets, who temporarily held the top position at RTL Group in Luxembourg until his departure a few years ago and has also been a member of the ProSiebenSat.1 Supervisory Board since May, is now replacing financial expert Beaujean. As chief financial officer, he initially stepped in as spokesman for the board in a turbulent time when group boss Max Conze took his hat off in 2020. The exact reason why Beaujean is now leaving or has to leave was not disclosed.

Joyn as the centerpiece

ProSiebenSat.1 recently sent a positive signal to the market with annual sales of EUR 4.5 billion in 2021 and 7,800 employees. So far, the group has held half of the shares in the streaming platform Joyn, in the future it wants to have all of them.

Joyn is something like the heart - recently there was talk of four million so-called unique users per month, i.e. individual users. You focus on entertainment and want to reach younger people on the Internet. Live, local and specialized in the German market. The moving image segment is to be linked more closely with other areas of the company - such as retail or communities.

However, not everything is going as planned in the group: A possible IPO of the online dating specialist Parship Meet Group has been put on hold for a long time.

When asked by dpa, a group spokeswoman said that the head of the supervisory board, Andreas Wiele, had made it clear that Habets' appointment was in no way linked to a possible influence of the Italian media group Media for Europe (MFE).

The TV company of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which holds a large stake in ProSiebenSat.1, has repeatedly spoken of a European network of broadcasters - so far no concrete plans have been made. The relationship between the two media houses is considered to be rather cool. MFE recently announced that it would strengthen its presence in Germany with its own office in Munich.

Own streaming strategy for Europe at RTL

The RTL Group, which achieved annual sales of 6.6 billion euros in 2021, announced at the beginning of the week that it would retain its shares in the French TV group M6. RTL, the biggest source of revenue in the Bertelsmann portfolio, is also setting the example: They are sticking to their own streaming strategy for Europe. Bertelsmann and RTL boss Thomas Rabe wants to create strong video companies through mergers, for example, in order to counter Netflix and Co. in the respective national market. In the Netherlands, such a step will soon be taken if the competition authorities say yes.

The plan didn't work out in France - there were competition concerns from the authorities. Then the question arose as to whether RTL would sell its own M6 shares. Rabe is now emphasizing that the M6 ​​Group is one of the best-managed TV companies in Europe. The strategy of building strong national media groups will continue. The whole thing is also remarkable because the manager repeatedly - without becoming specific - brought up a possible approach to ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany. According to official statements, this idea has not yet met with approval in Unterföhring.

Rabe recently moved to the top of the important RTL Germany business. Co-boss Stephan Schäfer had to leave after just under a year. Rabe gave the reason for Schäfer's rapid departure in a dpa interview in August: "We have now decided on the management structure at RTL Germany because RTL is facing some major challenges."

Create synergies through cross-media offers

In addition to the more tense advertising market, RTL is currently expanding its German streaming platform RTL into a cross-media offer. A super platform that bundles several media types from the Bertelsmann world such as audio, magazines and moving images with one app was promised. In August, the company launched its own music app as a first step. How exactly the whole thing will look like in the end is unclear.

The merger of RTL and the magazine publisher Gruner Jahr is not a sure-fire success either. RTL Germany took over the magazine portfolio at the beginning of the year, both Bertelsmann areas are to create synergies through cross-media offerings. The circulation of printed magazines has been declining in Germany for decades. The whole thing also has something to do with the merging of two corporate cultures.

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