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Summary:

German broadcasters kill plans to launch a Hulu-like site after regulators intervene. Is it time for Netflix to sweep in?

german-flag
photo: gfhdickinson

German TV fans will have to wait a little longer for a Hulu-like TV catch-up site: Public broadcasting giants ARD and ZDF said Monday that they are nixing plans for a joint venture site dubbed Germany’s Gold, according to a heise.de report. Both broadcasters blamed local regulators, who have warned in the past that the joint offering could lead to collusion and price-fixing.

This isn’t the first time that German broadcasters have tried and failed to get a Hulu clone off the ground. ProSiebenSat.1 and RTL, the leading commercial broadcasters, were working on a joint venture of their own two years ago, but regulators intervened. The two media companies sued to reverse the decision, but lost in court, effectively ending their push for a catch-up platform with content from a wide variety of networks.

Why does this matter to anyone beyond Germany’s borders? Because the failure to launch sites owned by German broadcasters will make it easier for third parties to simply license German content.

Already, startups like Magine are looking to offer internet-based TV services to German audiences, and Hulu was reportedly in talks to enter the German market as well. However, it’s still unclear how Hulu’s international strategy is going to look like after the most recent failed sale of the company.

This could mean that Netflix could eventually capture the market with nearly no local competition. The streaming service is now in over 40 countries after expanding to the Netherlands last week, but hasn’t given any details on further international expansion plans.

Image courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user gfhdickinson.

  1. Nearly no local competition is a bit exaggerated – there are is more then enough competition in the German market – in fact the territory is oversaturated with sVod platform like Vivendi’s Watchever, Lovefilm, Maxdome and MyVideo of Prosiebensat1, Clipfisch of RTL, Sky which is coming up with another sVod service next year, Viewster and so on.

  2. Like Robert says above, there are in fact several services operatin in Germany right now.

    The general consensus among my friends there is that they are interested in paying for VoD, having already tried out Lovefilm and Watchever, but are disappointed in the catalogue of available titles.

    If Netflix or someone else can offer more content, there is still opportunity for great business.

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