Advanced Television

Court bans ‘German Hulu’

August 9, 2012

A state supreme court in Dusseldorf has banned plans by German broadcasters RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 to launch a joint online video platform similar to Hulu for the German market.

The court upheld previous objections to the platform, arguing it would further strengthen the two networks’ supposed “duopoly” in the German advertising market. The channels associated with the RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 networks control around two thirds of the free TV advertising market in Germany.

The networks wanted to set up an online platform to provide catch-up services for series, films and TV shows seven days after initial broadcast. RTL and ProSieben said they would operate the platform, but would open it up to all German-language channels, including commercial competitors and public broadcasters.

Both RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 already operate their own online video portals, but were eager to establish a one-stop shop for all German TV content on the web. The networks fear major international players, such as Hulu or Netflix, could soon enter the German market and steal viewers away from them. But the private networks were unable to get the public broadcasters on their side. Instead, Germany’s public broadcasters earlier this year launched their own online catch-up service, Gold, which still needs to secure regulatory approval.

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