Vivendi Looking to Sell German VOD Platform Watchever


The French media giant is reportedly seeking a buyer for the money-losing VOD service as Netflix plans to enter the German market later this year.

French media giant Vivendi is looking for a buyer for its money-losing German video-on-demand service Watchever, according to the French media.

A report Wednesday in French newspaper Les Echos said Vivendi has hired Merrill Lynch to assess a possible sale of Watchever, a subscription VOD service akin to Netflix, which launched in Germany early last year.

A Vivendi spokesman contacted by The Hollywood Reporter declined to comment, but rumors of a possible Watchever sale have been bubbling up since Vivendi reported its first-quarter figures, showing the German service booked a $28 million (€21 million) loss in the first three months of this year.

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In its first year of operation, in 2013, Watchever lost nearly $90 million (€66 million) on a turnover of just $16 million (€12 million). According to Les Echos, Vivendi is unwilling to carry those loses any further and is looking to offload Watchever.

The timing of the sale could also have something to do with the impending German launch of Netflix, which the American SVOD giant has confirmed for later this year. That move might trigger a price war in the still-nascent German VOD market with deep-pocketed Netflix battling it out with Amazon, which recently launched its SVOD service Amazon Prime Video in Germany.

Presenting its Q1 figures last month, Vivendi confirmed that it was considering "all strategic options" for Watchever.

The Berlin-based VOD service launched a major marketing push last year, engaging Germany's biggest star, Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds), in a series of TV spots aimed at winning market share. Watchever does not release subscriber figures, but it is estimated it has between 300,000 and 500,000 subscribers in Germany.