German operators and broadcasters mull OTT options at ANGA COM

Sky Deutschland is mulling the possibility of replicating the Sky Now OTT offering provided by BSkyB, although it has no current plans to launch such a service, according to Holger Ensslin, chief officer, legal regualtory and distribution.

“We are considering that – there is no question,” said Ensslin, speaking on a strategy panel at ANGA COM. Sky Deutschland currently offers standalone day passes for football matches, including in the final phase of the Champions League.

Ensslin said that Sky would take a step into the OTT world by launching a Sky Sports News app as a standalone OTT service this summer. Ensslin said this would be a low-cost service.

Ensslin said that Sky was already an OTT operator in its own right via Sky Go. “It’s not a standalone offer but it’s a big OTT platform,” he said. “In Q1 we had 15 million requests on our platform.”

Thomas Heise, chairman of the board of on-demand service Maxdome, speaking on the same panel, said that his service’s biggest competitor was piracy and illegal consumption of content. Nevertheless, he said, video-on-demand is growing quickly, albeit as a nich service in comparison to pay TV services.

To become mass market services, VOD providers needed to extend reach to as many devices as possible, said Heise. “That’s the first step for stronger growth. Second is the user or customer experience,” he said. “Number three is content. If we want to sell content we something of a premium character, exclusive for a limited time or specific region, but this is something that can drive growth in the future.”

Katharina Behrends, managing director, Universal Networks International Germany, said that her company engaged in initiatives such as a video game OTT to complement one of its linear shows. However, she said Universal was not an OTT player. “We’ll not organise our own platform but if there are new players and they protect our content [we will look at that],” she said. However, she said that she currently didn’t see any potential entrant that would lead Universal to consider alternatives to its existing strong relationships with distribution partners.

Behrends said that Universal offered an app together with Deutsche Telekom for its E! Entertainment channel.
Susanne Aigner-Drews, Discovery Germany said that her company wanted to be “where our subscribers want to see our content”. She said that DMAX would launch an app in October as part of its multi-platform strategy. “It will be exciting to see how it will develop,” she said.

Adding pay TV services is one possible option for HD+, according to Wolfgang Elsaesser, managing director, Astra Deutschland. However, Elsaesser said that Astra was a technical service provider and would remain neutral and not act as a content aggregator.

He said that German consumers were willing to pay for services and were getting used to paying for content, including HD services.

Elsaesser said HD+ Replay was an example of the ways in which OTT could complement broadcast services.