The media group has redoubled focus on its core brand as it becomes increasingly clear that the German TV company has missed the boat when it comes to streaming
These days, taking on the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ is a pipe dream for all but the most ambitious media companies. Nonetheless, with streaming services seeing a meteoric rise during 2020 under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic, traditional TV players are seeing little choice but to try to face these hyperscale behemoths.
According to sources, today RTL Group is set to rename its streaming service, TVNow, to RTL+, as part of a wider focus on uniting the RTL brand. The renaming of the service, which was first launched in 2018, will take place in the second half of this year.
The plan to unite the RTL brand, which features numerous logos across its TV, radio, and digital offerings, represents a new strategic approach, putting the company more in line with the likes of its giant streaming rivals. This is presumably a decision which has not been taken lightly, since the group has spent the last three years marketing the TVNow brand.
"We are currently working on the implementation of a comprehensive redesign and repositioning of the RTL brand. The aim is to sustainably strengthen the RTL brand as the leading European entertainment brand and to strengthen the brand architecture within the to harmonize the entire RTL Group – nationally and internationally, from corporate brands to channel and format brands, across all digital platforms," Stephan Schäfer, Managing Director Content & Brands of the media group told DWDL.de.
But despite this unified approach, RTL will face an uphill battle, with rivals across Europe facing similar challenges.The sad reality is that, for many of these companies, the opportunity to launch something at scale to challenge these mega-players has been and gone.
Take the UK, for example. Over a decade ago, a UK project called Kangaroo brought together the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV to develop a streaming service that would have been an emergent rival for Netflix. However, regulators back in 2009 deemed the project to be too much of a threat to competition in such an emerging market, ultimately blocking the project. This regulatory decision set the companies back around a decade in this market, only fully joining forces for a streaming service – Britbox – in 2017, by which point they had arguably missed the boat.
The advent of the streaming age has been devastating to RTL Group, whose shares have lost around 60% of their value since their all-time high of six years ago. A possible solution has been raised in the form a merger between RTL and German mass media company ProSiebenSat.1, but the latter has already struck a streaming deal with the US company Discovery in the form of joint venture Joyn.
With RTL now undertaking a significant rebranding, it seems unlikely that they will be keen to do so again, perhaps hinting that the merger idea does not have much of a future after all.
As so often when it comes to the streaming discussion, with likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime already grown so huge, moves to challenge them now could be a case of too little too late.
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