Europe's Largest TV Firm Moots Home Shopping, Gaming

29 June 2006

Broadcasters are "negligent" not to look at opportunities such as gaming, home shopping and merchandising, RTL Group ceo Gerhard Zeiler told a conference held Wednesday by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London rightist think tank.

"We are facing new competitive challenges that could significantly undermine our business models," Zeller warned delegates. Fragmentation is the main threat, driven by digital penetration, channel proliferation, broadband growth and the rise of TV via the internet - the latter opening the market to new competitors such as BT in the UK.

Referring to RTL's British television channel, Five, Zeiler said the ultimate aim is to derive at least 25% of future revenue from activities other than the sale of TV airtime to advertisers.

Among other challenges facing the broadcast industry are the rise of mobile television, which will add to fragmentation and raise more content and rights issues; online advertising; and the eventual ubiquity of personal video recorders. A "lethal cocktail", in Zeiler's view.

However, RTL companies, he assured his audience, have no intention of becoming the "dinosaurs" of tomorrow's media world. "We won't make the mistake of the music industry and sit and watch until it is almost too late. We will take action."

That action, he believes, is a "change of strategic direction ... not being afraid to fragment [channels] - better you than someone else."

He continued: "It is not enough any more to offer just one product, even if it is brilliant. I believe in free-to-air [TV] so, therefore, also in a strong ad-based industry. But to finance this, ad revenues alone are not enough."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff