European media groups need to come together and collaborate in order to stave off the threat presented by global internet giants, including collaboration in content and platforms, according to Christian Anting, Polish broadcaster TVN’s digital chief and co-chairman of the European Media Alliance, the grouping of key European broadcasters forged in 2014 to promote initiatives where collaboration makes sense.
“The alliance is designed to face up to common challenges and challengers. Everyone has their own digital transformation [process] but new forms of partnerships need to be created to build the scale,” said Anting, speaking at the Digital TV CEE conference in Budapest yesterday. “It is time for European broadcasters and media groups to come together. We can make these types of collaboration and partnership work successfully.”
Anting told conference attendees that maintaining its position in the Polish market was only part of the challenge facing TVN, which had to develop a strategy to see off competition from global players entering the market.
“This is a C-level network to work out solutions to the main challenges that our business is facing and build scale in those areas where we are challenged,” he said.
The alliance is now focusing on four main areas – content production and licensing to take on the challenge of OTT, developing strategy for online video and digital ad sales.
Anting said that collaboration could extend to building out platforms to rival global internet companies if it made sense, but acknowledged the challenges in aligning the aims of diverse companies and said that projects had to be specific and be based on key shared interests.
On the content production and licensing side, TVN, its owner Scripps and ProSiebenSat.1 have teamed up to collaborate on programming and production. Scripps branded blocks were launched on PeroSiebenSat.1 as an initial phase. The groups are now using Poland to act as a hub to produce short and long-form programming for the German and Polish markets. Anting said that this would be expanded to other markets later this year.
The leading companies behind the alliance, Mediaset, ProSieben.Sat 1 and TF1, are also collaborating on creating new digital ventures. Anting highlighted the fact that companies in the alliance had downscaled their own multichannel network (MCN) initiatives to focus on ProSieben.Sat1-backed Studio71. Anting said other partners would also contribute in future.
A third initiative was to create the European Broadcaster Exchange, building a pan-European sales house for online video and digital ad sales. EBX will kick of in January 2018 with the contribution of online inventory into a central repository that can be sold on a programmatic basis.
Anting said that to develop OTT, TVN realised that people want local language content and programmes from brands that they know. Creating originals for OTT is at an early stage of development, said Anting. The alliance identified projects that could be produced jointly and to find scripts that could be exploited across multiple markets. Cape Town – a six episode drama that aired exclusively on OTT in Poland – was one of the first. “We would never have been able to afford this on a standalone basis,” said Anting.