Hulu Has 'Failed' in Europe, RTL Boss Says

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Gerhard Zeiler, the chief executive of Europe’s biggest broadcast television group, says broadcasters overseas won’t do deals with content aggregators who want to control advertising.

LONDON – Gerhard Zeiler, the chief executive of Europe’s biggest free TV group RTL, said European broadcasters won’t do deals with Hulu because of its content terms.

Zeiler, who oversees more than 20 European free to air networks channels including RTL in Germany, M6 in France and, until last year, Channel 5 in the U.K., said that Hulu - the online platform co-owned by NBC, Fox and ABC had “failed” in Europe because it wanted to control the advertising around the programs it showed.

“Two years ago Hulu came to Europe and they thought they would sign deals with everyone in 12 months. Two years later they haven’t signed any deals,” Zeiler said, speaking at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Conference.

The RTL boss said that broadcasters who had nurtured shows and built their own brands around them should not let that content be watched outside the channel’s own brand.

“All the broadcasters said [to Hulu] 'we won't let you turn our [advertising] euros or pounds into cents. We want to sell our own advertising, we want to determine the price' and that's not something they [Hulu] could to deliver to us. We can't allow someone else to disintermediate.”

Speaking on a panel on connected TV, Zeiler also said that take-up of the new Internet-enabled television opportunities coming to the U.K. would be slow.

“The normal user only watches seven to ten favorite channels, even in the last four years…and the Twitter and Facebook feeds you can’t even see from three meters away.”

Hulu could not be reached for comment.