RTL, Pro7 confirm plans for German Hulu

Apply to Euro Commission for regulatory approval of deal

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's two largest commercial TV networks have confirmed they plan to launch an free online television platform similar to Hulu for Germany and Austria. RTL and ProSieben on Friday applied to the European Commission for regulatory approval of the deal.

Under the agreement, RTL and ProSieben will form a joint venture to run the still-unnamed technical platform. RTL's digital division RTL Interactive will operate the platform handling hosting and streaming but it will be run as an independent system open to all German-language broadcasters. Individual networks will determine what content is put on the platform and how it is presented and marketed.

A key element to the success or failure of the new site will be how it is accepted by Germany's public broadcasters.

This German version of Hulu will stream programming for up to seven days after their original broadcast. It will not compete directly with free-to-air channels or German networks' own VOD platforms.

It will, however, compete directly with international Internet offerings, both legal and illegal. The German platform could severely hamper Hulu's expansion plans in Europe's largest TV market. So far, Hulu has been unable to roll out its service in Germany because it lacks the rights to stream the most popular TV series and films.