Germany could see battle of the Hulu clones

Public broadcast giant ZDF planning VOD site

BERLIN -- German could be the site of a battle of the Hulu clones after it emerged this week that public broadcast giant ZDF is mulling plans to launch a fee-based online video platform.

The move comes as Germany's two largest commercial networks -- RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 – prepare their own ad-sponsored VOD platform.

ZDF's VOD plans are part of a new agreement between the pubweb and the Producers Alliance, an association of German film and TV production companies. ZDF already provides catch-up versions of many of its programs online but only for seven days after broadcast. The proposed new service would allow users to stream or download productions after that time. ZDF would likely charge for individual downloads, splitting the revenue with program producers.

If ZDF goes ahead with its own VOD service, it's unlikely the channel will also set up on the RTL/ProSieben site. The commercial networks have designed their Hulu-style service as an open platform where all German-language channels could stream programming, hoping to create a one-stop-shop for catch-up TV. German and Austrian media authorities are currently assessing the commercial model to see if it squares with local competition laws.