Long reads

The Digital TV CEE Q&A: Andreas Rudas, RTL Group

Ahead of the forthcoming Digital TV CEE conference in Prague, DTVE interviews Andreas Rudas, executive vice-president, regional operations & business development, central & eastern Europe and Asia

What are the main challenges  facing free-to-air broadcasters in CEE and what are they doing to address  these? The  TV industry in general faces three main challenges: first, increasing  competition, with “more TV” than ever before. Not only more TV channels, but  also more and more distribution platforms, TV screens, devices, and more  players entering the TV business. Second, digitisation leads to profound technological  changes, with the merging worlds of television and internet as a main driver.  And third, a certain shift in consumer behaviour, with rapidly growing  consumption of non-linear or “on-demand” TV.  In  view of these challenges, we at RTL Group have developed a clear strategy – we  will rely on our strength, expertise and creativity while working constantly to  further develop our business model. This includes a variety of measures:  building strong families of channels, investing in local content, establishing  a strong presence on all digital platforms with our own catch-up TV services  and mobile applications, and developing new, innovative forms of advertising to  complement the classic 30-second commercial.

What are your expectations for  the advertising market in the region over the coming year? There’s is no  visibility right now.

How well placed are  broadcasters to diversify their revenue streams through subscription and other  digital services? One  focus of RTL Group’s growth strategy is a significant increase in  non-advertising revenue. There are many ways to achieve this. For example,  establishing a second revenue stream. RTL Group aims to eventually receive a  fair revenue share for its brands and programmes from the major distribution  platforms – cable network operators, satellite companies and Internet TV  providers. For new services such as high-definition TV channels, on-demand  platforms and digital pay channels, and also for the signal of the major  free-TV channels, since these form the basis of the platform operators’  business. Developing a profitable business model for non-linear  TV services will be another important task for TV broadcasters in the years  ahead. A model that offers the right mix of free, advertising-funded services  and paid services. Customers could, for example, pay for exclusive content, for  advance access to series episodes before they are broadcast on TV, and for programmes  from the archive. Our content  production arm FremantleMedia also plays a key role in strengthening our  non-advertising revenue streams, and RTL Group wants to grow this business significantly  across all markets. Finally, RTL Group will continue to work on diversifying  its businesses by leveraging its own brands. Examples include the mobile  communications cooperation between M6 and Orange, live events, casual games  tying in to TV formats, and e-commerce and rights trading.

What are RTL Group’s main  goals in the CEE region and what is it doing to achieve these? Everything  that we’ve defined as success factors for our strategy we also do in the CEE  region. With the launch of RTL 2 in Croatia and the acquisition of seven cable  channels in Hungary we are building and extending our families of channels in  these countries. We offer online catch-up TV services with RTL Most in Hungary  and RTL Sada in Croatia, and both broadcasters are steadily expanding their  mobile services. Geographical  expansion in high-growth regions also remains on RTL Group’s agenda. With  participations in ten countries, we already have a well-balanced portfolio. Not  least against the backdrop of this strong presence in the European TV markets,  RTL Group is careful with its investment decisions. If, however, the company  identifies a target that will help implement its strategy and create value for  the Group, then the management team will pursue it.

What topics do you think will  produce the most interesting debates at Digital TV CEE? For  me, it’s always very interesting to see whether all the debates about the  future of TV in the digital world and about new entrants revolutionising the  business will reflect the astonishing strength, resilience and flexibility the  TV industry has demonstrated in the past. Let’s not forget that TV viewing  continues to grow because people love to be entertained and thrilled by  captivating stories. If the industry continues to play to this strength, TV  will remain the leading medium in the digital world as well.

Digital TV CEE takes place in Prague, the Czech Republic from June 26-28. Click here for more details.

Tags: RTL