A milestone: prosiebensat.1 launches streaming platform

Prosiebensat.1 boss max conze has asked hard-pressed shareholders for patience as he restructures the group.

At the annual general meeting in munich, he also announced a first tangible result for next tuesday: the free streaming platform joyn will then be launched with a good 50 stations, including ARD and ZDF. This enabled viewers to "watch german TV bundled in one app," said conze. In two years, he wants to reach ten million viewers and compensate for the decline in advertising revenues on traditional television.

Prosiebensat wants to compete with paid US streaming services such as netflix or amazon prime.1 also counter with more self-produced films and live shows. Shareholders will finance the necessary investments by foregoing the dividend, which will be cut by around 40 percent compared to the previous year. That’s steep, but okay, said shareholder representatives. For it is "much more important that the company now gets its act together and invests," said daniela begdolt of the schutzvereinigung fur wertpapierbesitz (DSW).

Because prosiebensat.1 suffers like other tv stations from slump in advertising revenues. Instead of watching TV, many viewers prefer to surf the internet or migrate to netflix or other service providers. According to market researcher gfk, around 23 million germans now use paid streaming services.

Conze, who a year ago joined prosiebensat.1 came, ladenhuter cleaned out US series and began to invest heavily in neglected programming. Together with RTL, it has just created a platform that links television and the internet and enables advertisers to target their advertising much more precisely. This should soon bring in an additional 400 million euros in revenue. He expects as much as two billion euros in revenue from 2023 from the online businesses of parship, verivox and co.

The restructuring is urgently needed – the share price has fallen further since conze took office from 25 to 15 euros. A good three years ago, it even stood at 50 euros. "We are all aware that they are dissatisfied. And rightly so," conze told the shareholders.

But shareholder representatives were upset about something else: the board members. Halving the stock’s value and then increasing the executive board’s holdings by 60 percent seems like "sheer madness," said elisa haralampides of the schutzgemeinschaft der kapitalanleger (sdk). In view of the current state of the company, a three-million-euro start-up premium for conze is "incomprehensible" in any case.

Former deutsche borse supervisory board member johannes witt said as a private shareholder of prosiebensat.1, although earnings, dividends and the share price are falling, conze received 5.5 million euros in the first seven months of his tenure. The annual salary of conze’s deputy conrad albert has been doubled to 3.7 million euros. DSW expert bergdolt emphasized that conze is focusing on the right developments. But prosiebensat.1 buys its qualities "perhaps a bit too expensive".

What the surprising entry of the italian group mediaset means for the future of prosiebensat.1 means remains unclear. Albert stressed that at 9.6 percent, the television group of former italian prime minister silvio berlusconi is not yet a coarse shareholder. The italians were already talking about a european television alliance under their leadership – conze, on the other hand, sees no logic in industrial cooperation. On wednesday, however, he called the entry just a vote of confidence in his strategy. Whether he is already learning italian, he loves openly.

Mediaset is smaller than prosiebensat.1 and could certainly profit. For prosiebensat.1 is "the fastest growing, most innovative and broadest based group of broadcasters," explained daniel kerven of investment bank J.P. Morgan in a study.

Conze asked the shareholders to trust him. The race requires perseverance and is not yet won: "but it is progressing."

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