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Belgian Channels Join Forces for Hulu-Style Service

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The country's three main Dutch-language networks have begun testing the catch-up portal called Rumble.

COLOGNE, Germany - The three largest Dutch-language networks in Belgium: VRT, VMMa and SBS Belgium, have joined forces to launch a local catch-up TV portal similar to Hulu.

Called Rumble, the service would make the networks' programs available online and to tablets and smartphones for up to three days after their initial television broadcast. According to an article in Belgium's De Standard newspaper, the three channels are currently testing the service. VRT is a public broadcaster while VMMa and SBS are both commercial channels.

A similar attempt to launch a Hulu-style platform in Germany, Europe's largest television market, failed when the courts rejected plans by leading commercial broadcast groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1. The regulatory watchdogs argued the service would extend the two companies' near-duopoly in the German TV ad market. Germany's public broadcasters have proposed their own independent catch-up service, called Gold.

The market in online TV services is heating up in Europe. Netflix this week announced that its new service in the U.K. and Ireland crossed the 1 million subscriber milestone within seven months of launch, the fastest growth for Netflix in any territory it operates in. Netflix also recently announced plans to launch its service across Scandinavia.