Since its launch in London in 2009, the Noah Conference has become one of the most distinguished European events for internet entrepreneurs, executives and investors to assess the state of the internet industry, to share insights into the latest digital business models and also to initiate new business relationships.
Philipp Freise, the head of the European Media Industry Team at private equity investor KKR, opened the panel discussion on “The future of free-TV” by asking Guillaume de Posch why television has coped so much better with digitisation than the music industry. “First, our core business of advertising-financed TV is free for the consumers – and nothing beats free. Second, the recorded music industry was basically a physical retail business, based on selling CDs. TV is already an all-digital business,” replied Guillaume de Posch, referring to the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting on all major distribution platforms (terrestrial, cable, satellite).
The discussion panel
Together with the CEOs of the online video companies Viewster and Preview Networks and ProSiebenSat1’s Chief Executive Thomas Ebeling, Guillaume de Posch discussed topics such as audience fragmentation, the steadily growing non-linear TV viewing – in particular among young viewers – the importance of copyright protection, and television’s still unrivalled power to reach mass audiences and promote consumer brands.
Asked about the future challenges for the TV industry, Guillaume de Posch explained that the internet and technology companies entering the audiovisual segment are all operating on a worldwide basis. “For us, our core business of TV broadcasting has mainly been a national business. But these global players don’t care about Europe’s Schengen frontiers anymore, as I like to call it. However, even if distribution is ‘King’ in the digital world, content will remain… ‘King Kong’. And the good news is that we are a content Group, with both our broadcasters and with FremantleMedia. Just look at the high amounts of money that Netflix has to pay to get access to premium content,” de Posch said.
As a consequence, he continued, TV will always need to offer a premium viewing experience for our viewers, with the best shows and live events – in particular, as the production quality of online video networks is constantly improving, even though they are mainly targeted at small niche audiences. “The second consequence: we at RTL Group have to reach our viewers on all platforms and second, third or any other screens. With linear TV that we continue to develop with new channels and with our own on-demand services. And we also have to operate in the growing segment of ‘next generation TV’. That’s why FremantleMedia has been launching Youtube-funded channels. And that’s also why RTL Nederland recently acquired Videostrip, the country’s leading online video advertising network: We know very well how to sell TV commercials, but we also have to further develop our targeted advertising capabilities,” RTL Group’s Co-CEO concluded.