Lockdown Boosts Already Booming German Pay TV Market

Courtesy of Netflix
Netflix's German original 'Dark' has been an online hit with both local and international viewers

Stay-at-home orders helped lift viewership in German-speaking Europe to 17.1 million in the first half of 2020. Revenues were already strong, with streaming driving a 89 percent jump to $5.2 billion last year.

Stay-at-home orders and lockdown measures have helped an already buoyant pay TV and streaming market in Germany hit record highs, according to figures from local industry group Vaunet, an association of leading commercial television operators.

In its new study on the pay TV market, the group claims monthly viewership figures across German-speaking Europe (Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland) topped 17.1 million in the first half of 2020, compared to an average reach of 16.4 million pay TV viewers per month during 2019. In March, shortly after stay-at-home orders were introduced in several areas across the region, total viewership peaked at 18.3 million.

Streaming services — global giants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, as well as local operations, including RTL's TVNow and ProSiebenSat.1's Joyn — have driven explosive growth in the VOD market. Vaunet reports a total of 13.4 million subscription VOD consumers across German-speaking Europe in the fourth quarter of 2019, nearly double the 6.9 million recorded in the same period of 2018.

Revenues from both traditional pay TV and paid video-on-demand jumped to $5.15 billion (€4.5 billion) last year, up 89 percent from €4 billion in 2018. Pay TV revenues of some $2.75 billion (€2.4 billion) stand at around double SVOD sales of $1.37 billion (€1.2 billion).

Given the current uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus crisis, Vaunet declined to give a revenue forecast for the industry for the current year. One big question is the future of production. While many local productions have restarted under new COVID-19 hygienic guidelines, German companies face outsized risks should a coronavirus outbreak shut down production. Vaunet managing director Frank Giersberg joined the chorus of voices from the local industry in calling on the German government to set up a default fund for TV productions that would cover COVID-19 cancellation costs.