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German television group ProSiebenSat.1 has signed a landmark licensing deal with Disney, securing rights to the studio’s film and TV output, across all platforms, for German-speaking Europe.
The deal, which Disney and ProSieben will announce on Thursday, will see films from Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel, and TV series from ABC Studios, shift from competitor RTL to ProSieben’s free and pay TV channels.
The deal kicks off in 2016 and runs for several years.
For the first time, ProSieben has also secured exclusive SVOD rights to U.S. series to go out on the company’s SVOD service Maxdome.
ProSiebenSat.1 acquisitions head Rudiger Boss, who negotiated the deal with Bernhard Gloggler, general manager of Disney Media Distribution, said the SVOD component was a reaction to new competition, particularly Netflix’s launch in Germany.
“We have to stay competitive with exclusive series content in SVOD,” he said, noting that several U.S. series, including Empire and The 100, have done extremely well on Maxdome. In the case of Empire, even outperforming the show’s free-to-air ratings in Germany.
With the Disney deal, ProSiebenSat.1 now has long-term output agreements with all the major studios except Sony and Universal, both of which are with RTL (Universal has a split licensing deal in Germany with RTL and public broadcaster ZDF).
“We are completely committed to U.S. films and series,” said Boss. “To reach a broad audience in Germany you absolutely need U.S. content. It doesn’t work otherwise.”
ProSieben’s SVOD strategy will be the most closely watched aspect of this new deal, to see if a major old media television network can successfully hold off the SVOD assault of Netflix and co. and hold on to their audience, on air and online.
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