The new catch-up TV services ARD Plus, ZDF select, ARD Plus Kids and ZDFtivi, which Deutsche Telekom offers within its redesigned IPTV and OTT service MagentaTV, are not operated by the German public broadcasters, but by Telekom.
The programmes available on the services are licensed to MagentaTV by the commercial subsidiaries of ARD and ZDF, as spokespeople from ARD and ZDF confirmed to Broadband TV News.
“As with the content licensed to Telekom in the past by ZDF Enterprises GmbH to supplement the ZDFmediathek, the new offers are not channels organised by ZDF or ZDF Enterprises GmbH, but a completely normal programme licensing process,” explained a ZDF spokeswoman. “ZDF Enterprises GmbH, the commercial subsidiary of ZDF, has licensed the corresponding programmes to MagentaTV. The sole operator of MagentaTV is Deutsche Telekom.”
An ARD spokesman said: “The new offers are operated by Telekom. ARD licenses the content and the ARD Plus brand as well as the right to offer the content under the brand. The choice is made by Telekom.”
Telekom offers ARD Plus, ZDF select, ARD Plus Kids and ZDFtivi to its customers exclusively, as a Telekom spokesman confirmed to Broadband TV News. This dashes hopes that the new catch-up services will also be available to other platform operators.
The licensing of programme content from the public broadcasters to commercial video-on-demand services is a common practice in the industry. However, the fact that a company operates its own business models under the ARD and ZDF brands could be seen as a more controversial move.
Public licence fee payers could be surprised that the new ARD/ZDF services are not accessible on the open internet or on other platforms and could see this as contradictory to the public service obligation. No doubt: The deal between ARD, ZDF and Telekom is likely to spark discussions.