We aim to do one thing and do it really well

02.11.2020, France, Bedrock

Bedrock is a recent RTL Group investment, and is the streaming technology company behind the newly launched French streaming platform Salto. Backstage met Jonas Engwall, Chief Executive Officer of Bedrock, to learn more about his first year with the company, what their upcoming projects are, and how they are competing with global players.

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“We have achieved a pretty amazing journey in only 12 months,” says Jonas Engwall, Chief Executive Officer of Bedrock. Engwall joined the French technology company specialising in the design and development of streaming platforms as acting CEO in September 2019. Bedrock is a recent RTL Group investments; a joint venture with Groupe M6, that closed 10 April 2020.

Jonas Engwall

“We were probably one of the few companies in the world to close a joint venture during lockdown.,” says Engwall. “It’s always very satisfying to close a joint venture deal, but given the particularly incredible circumstances, this time around I will never forget this date.”

Asked what he will particularly remember from the last 12 months, Jonas says: “The first thing that comes to my mind is the skills of the team, which consists of more than 300 people and is still growing. Secondly, everyone’s positive attitude in the face of huge unknowns and changes, hard work in terms of new ways of working, and new clients. So far in 2020 we have completely re-organised the company; consolidated our offices in Lyon in one building; shifted towards a professional client-centric company; multiplied the amount of supported devices; and dramatically increased the platform and feature scope. I believe that our teams are very motivated by Bedrock’s vision of becoming a really big player in the streaming space.”

With the launch of the French streaming platform Salto, Bedrock has a higher profile in the world of streaming. Salto is the fifth streaming platform to use the technology developed by Bedrock, in addition to 6play, RTL Play in Belgium, RTL Most in Hungary, and RTL Play in Croatia.

“Salto is a big project for Bedrock,” says Engwall. “Salto is unique as Bedrock’s first ‘third-party’ partner, even if it’s partly owned by M6, and it was a hard battle to win that contract. The team at Salto had built a pretty ambitious editorial proposition and we have worked very hard to provide them with the best streaming platform.”

The next major project is migrating the Dutch platform Videoland to the Bedrock technology. “Both from a Bedrock and an RTL Group perspective, Salto is very interesting as this is bringing Bedrock closer to our launch in the Netherlands. Many of the requirements of Salto and Videoland are fairly similar. And this is precisely the core idea and foundation for Bedrock: to be able to mutualise costs as much as possible across all of our partners.”

Engwall describes Bedrock as a ‘pooling of resources’ and explains how the company positions itself: “In today’s media-tech world, even local players are forced to compete with global players in terms of technology, features, user experience and personalisation. Maintaining a streaming platform reasonably on par with the global players costs at least 50 million Euro annually in tech and product investment alone. Needless to say, few companies can afford this level of continuous spending. So, mutualising investments across multiple partners makes total sense.”
 

Engwall highlights the scale of RTL Group as one of Bedrock’s strengths: “We understand the media ecosystem and its needs really well, and have a ‘skin in the game’ approach as we are mainly developing for our own shareholders. We are also open to third parties, as we are the only strategic player with scale that invites third parties to collaborate around an end-to-end streaming solution. At Bedrock, we ‘only’ do streaming. We aim to do one thing and do it really well, in contrast to a lot of tech companies trying to diversify and sometimes losing focus,” says Engwall.

“Our goal is to continue to build a state-of-the-art platform, and serve the RTL Group companies in their digital expansion so their content can be distributed in a way that is on par with Netflix and others,” he adds.

Bedrock has more than ten years’ experience in digital innovation, as the company goes back to 2008 when M6 launched its first catch-up service called M6 Replay, now 6play.

“6play is our first ‘streaming champion’ and by far our biggest client with nine live channels, over 30 million registered users, and cutting-edge advertising innovations and digital TV features,” says Engwall.

Bedrock has continued to work very closely with M6, as well as Bedrock’s existing partners, RTL Belgium, RTL Hungary and RTL Croatia, in their streaming expansion. “Our partners have boosted their line-up of channels and have seen impressive user growth; and we greatly expanded our capabilities for subscription-based platforms, so called SVOD services.” In addition, Bedrock plans to move the existing partners to the latest version of Bedrock to enhance the user experience.

Bedrock’s partners are based all over Europe, and the Bedrock team has also grown outside of its headquarters in Paris. Since August, Bedrock has teams based both in Ukraine and Belarus. Engwall made English the spoken language for the growing European partners and teams at Bedrock. “It was a no-brainer to make English our official language. I’m very impressed by how fast the teams are adapting. I think most people even within Bedrock are impressed by our ability to change fast and scale. We cultivate a teamwork environment that encourages excellence in execution, passion, and innovation; always measuring ourselves against best-in-class players,” he explains.

Engwall worked at RTL Group before joining Bedrock and is used to fast-growing, international businesses – in the past decade he has run businesses in 20 countries.
 

“With RTL Group and CBS we had teams in the US, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila. With iflix I had teams in nine countries spread across three continents, including multiple verticals of tech and product teams. Bedrock is also my third joint venture with very big media companies. Joint ventures are generally complicated but also equally rewarding when it all comes together. Lastly, I’ve built a good understanding of the complicated technology environments that our teams manage on a daily basis,” he says.

Asked about the future of Bedrock, and what we can expect, he says: “We are in the very fortunate situation of having a lot of inbound interest in Bedrock. This will increasingly be part of our future focus, without losing sight of our current partners, to further expand both geographically and outside the Group to create more scale. Which is actually great news for our partners as this will ensure that we can keep up with global players and deliver their fantastic content in the same professional way as the leading global streaming giants.”

Backstage would like to thank Jonas Engwall for giving us some insights into the world of Bedrock, and wish him and the team the best of luck as they continue to build a state-of-the-art streaming platform for their partners. We hope to soon report on the successful migrations and technical developments of Bedrock and its partners.

On the vision of Bedrock
"This vision is profoundly supported by Thomas Rabe, Elmar Heggen and Nicolas de Tavernost who entrusted me with leading a 'streaming champions builder'. I'm highly grateful for the opportunity and their continuous support and confidence."

On the partners of Bedrock
"All this thanks to the outstanding collaboration with Julien Smadja , Sven Sauvé, Philippe Delusinne, Gabriella Vidus and Marc Puškarić who trust Bedrock with continuously improving and operating their streaming services."

On closing the joint venture
"Thanks to the hard work from a lot of people including Jérôme Lefébure, Valéry Gerfaud, Nathalie Martin, Siska Ghesquiere, Björn Bauer and Andreas Fischer, we managed to close the joint venture 10 April."

On the future of Bedrock
"Since the summer we have initiated a core part of Bedrock's governance - the Bedrock Product Committee, where several brilliant 'streaming minds' across the Group meet and give their views and requirements to help Bedrock constantly continue to evolve and improve. We will increasingly use the Product Committee, together with other forums, to build synergies between our partners and to further share knowledge and best practice."

 

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