Market Insight

Belgian broadcasters unite to form catch-up TV portal Rumble

August 28, 2012

Irina Kornilova Irina Kornilova Manager, Research and Analysis, Broadband Media

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The three main Flemish language broadcasters in Belgium - public broadcaster VRT, and two commercial networks, VMMa and SBS Belgium, have joined forces in a joint project - a catch-up TV portal called Rumble. The Rumble project is intended to become a Belgian 'Hulu' - a catch-up portal that would make the three networks' content available online and on portable devices for up to three days after broadcast. Service is currently being tested by trialists on smartphones and tablets.

Ever since Hulu made its first move outside the US by launching in Japan in September 2011 and confirmed plans for European expansion, several joint venture projects that would link together European broadcasters and networks started to form. The most notable examples have been in Germany. Joint venture by RTL and Prosieben.Sat1 was shot down by the local competition body, with the ban recently confirmed by the German state supreme court for being anti-competitive. Another proposed German joint venture, between ARD and ZDF, dubbed 'Germany's Gold' is still going through monopoly commission checks. The idea behind 'Germany's Gold' is also to create a 'Hulu-like' service - a VOD portal which makes content available on an ad-based and pay-per-view basis, as well as through subscription. If Hulu finally decides to set down in Europe, Belgium would probably not be the top choice - although a developed market, Belgium is still a small addressable market for international players. So while German broadcasters are forming joint venture plans partly as a defensive strategy, Rumble is arguably more focused on addressing the common issues of device fragmentation, advertising sales and improving consumer awareness.

At the moment it is unclear how regulatory bodies will view the venture - regulatory obstacles have always been the biggest problem for such joint ventures.

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