Discovery, ProSiebenSat.1 launch free OTT, tease Eurosport add-ons

The OTT market in Europe’s largest economy is heating up nicely, as German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has recruited Discovery Communications to relaunch a free ad-supported version of its 7TV streaming service this week. A small but significant one-liner was dropped at the bottom of the press release, stating that 7TV plans to launch a Eurosport Zone to watch selected sports highlights and clips.

Bundesliga rights are part and parcel of the streaming battle in Germany, rights which are now shared between Discovery’s Eurosport and Sky Deutschland – for which Eurosport shows 45 matches. If and when this sports offering is added to 7TV, the ability to have immediate access to highlights and clips will be a highly valuable asset, particularly as Eurosport still has no official pay TV distribution partner for the rights. There has been no mention yet if this will be added for a small extra fee or as part of the free service.

In the meantime, the joint 7TV ad-supported streaming service, which was initially announced for relaunch back in May and previously cost €2.99 a month, is combining nine popular terrestrial TV channels with two of Discovery’s FTA channels, with both live and catch up services available on the existing app. However, adding live matches to the a free streaming service is clearly not feasible given the inflated bidding prices, plus Eurosport has its own standalone service and Amazon Germany recently added Bundesliga matches from Eurosport to its Prime Video service for an additional €4.99 a month.

ProSiebenSat.1 also runs the SVoD service Maxdome in Germany, so in order to cushion the blow on the €7.99 a month offering, it seems a sensible decision to distribute its eggs among multiple baskets.

Swiss internet TV provider Zattoo now finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place, as its B2B platform venture recently took on board a fresh challenge as Netgem entered the German market; now its direct to consumer service has the combined might of a household US studio name and a European mass media conglomerate to contend with. On the other hand, German broadcaster RTL, part of the Bertelsmann media conglomerate, has been stealing market share away from ProSiebenSat.1, while Discovery’s European advertising business has been experiencing growth, compared to shrinkage in the US.

Discovery and ProSiebenSat.1 say they are considering bringing in third party content onto the new service and will be exploring the creation of a broader OTT platform. By this, it could mean building on a recent alliance forged with the broadcasters TF1 in France and Mediaset in Italy early this year – to expand all three broadcasting businesses beyond their national borders. The deal will see TF1 and Mediaset invest €53 million ($56.5 million) in ProSiebenSat.1’s MCN Studio71, taking 6.1% and 5.5% stakes, respectively. ProSiebenSat.1 will retain around 70% holding in Studio71 and will take a minority stake in TF1’s Finder Studios. Mediaset will benefit from bringing the Studio71 business to Italy.

Nothing was noted in the release about the technical aspects of the launch, but the Maxdome company profile in our Rethink TV service reveals that Accedo designed the UI for the SVoD service and it also uses Accedo’s XDK to keep it current on all platforms. Behind that is Dutch company Unified Streaming’s technology, used for MPEG-DASH with CENC common encryption with an existing PlayReady DRM. It uses Inside Secure for the PlayReady implementation for VoD to mobiles, and Irdeto also provides its Rights product, plus ContentWise provides recommendation software for Maxdome. ProSiebenSat.1’s media sales house SevenOne Media will handle digital advertising inventory for the new 7TV service.

The free version of 7TV is launching with the channels ProSieben, SAT.1, kabel eins, sixx, ProSieben MAXX, SAT.1 Gold and kabel eins Doku, together with Discovery’s free to air channels DMAX and TLC.

The 50-50 joint venture is seeking a CEO to take the helm and an announcement is expected to be made soon.

Also this week, Eurosport signed a deal with social media firm Snap to deliver tailor made mobile content of the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang next year – showing out-of-game action from sports including snowboarding, skiing and ice hockey.

Discovery President of International Development & Digital, Michael Lang, said, “Today marks the launch of a dynamic and ambitious new streaming service with ProSiebenSat.1, bringing together premium content on the 7TV service across multiple screens. This is an exciting new way for millions of German TV fans to watch their favorite Discovery shows and is just the beginning of a dynamic new partnership. This announcement is just the start as we work to add more channels and content partners, greater functionality, and enhanced technological capabilities and commercial opportunities in the months ahead.”

ProSiebenSat.1 CEO of AVoD, Christian Dankl, said, “This first phase of our streaming joint venture will see premium content from Discovery added for all 7TV fans. A new joint technology development for a pioneering streaming service is underway and we look forward to an exciting 2018, when we enter the next phase.”