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M7 may follow up KabelKiosk acquisition with German pay TV launch

M7 DeutschlandPay TV provider M7 Group may launch a new consumer pay TV business in Germany following its acquisition of KabelKiosk from Eutelsat, according to Kees Farber, managing director of M7 Deutschland.

While KabelKiosk is a business-to-business platform, delivering a bundle of channels to third-party operators across Germany via satellite, Farber said that M7 could also launch a business-to-consumer offering on satellite in the country. “It is something we are investigating. We are thinking of launching to consumers directly,” he said at a meeting with journalists at ANGA COM following the announcement yesterday.

Farber said the plan is still at an early stage. “The next step is to see what else can be done with this platform,” he said.

Farber said M7, which operates satellite-delivered pay TV services in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was moving away from being a pure DTH provider and that it now made sense to look to other markets. “It is a nice opportunity to enter the German market, initially through the cable operators,” said Farber.

He said there would be cost savings to be made in relation to procurement thanks to synergies with M7’s existing pay TV activities elsewhere. “It helps exploit synergies with respect to set-top boxes and content acquisition and so on,” said Farber.

Explaining the decision to sell KabelKiosk, Markus Fritz, director of commercial deployment and marketing at Eutelsat, said that his company did not initially plan to sell the business but saw the benefits of giving it access to M7’s European-wide scale and content know-how. The sale also includes a long-term capacity deal between M7 Group and Eutelsat for services in Germany from the 9 deg. East orbital slot. Eutelsat recently signed a contract with M7 for its new AustriaSat Magyarorszag service in Hungary.

“We felt Kabelkiosk was an established business with solid customers,” said Fritz. Eutelsat now has a partnership with a group present in multiple European markets that can fuel the growth of opportunities on satellite, he said.

Fritz said he believed there could be further scope for collaboration between Eutelsat and M7 at an international level, for example through the launch of KabelKiosk-like services in other markets and through Eutelsat’s ability to tap into M7 Group’s expertise if it is asked to provide multiscreen services by other broadcasters.

Martina Rutenbeck, managing director of KabelKiosk, said the acquisition would support KabelKiosk’s platform business. She said M7 would bring new perspectives to the business model and would enable the company to expand its cable business, where there is still a lot of room for growth.

In addition to using ANGA COM to announce its sale to M7 Group, which will operate in Germany under the name M7A Group, KabelKiosk used the show to launch its HbbTV-based IPTV service.

The IPTV service, for which KabelKiosk has tapped HbbTV specialist HTTV’s httvLink middleware, is designed to enable it to provide connected TV services to households in Germany as well as to deliver multiscreen services. According to Farber, is is likely that the service will not carry the KabelKiosk brand, although no decision has yet been taken on which brand name to use.