The numbers could not be more drastic. According to a new study, the total television audience in Germany spends more time with the streaming platform Netflix than with every single classical linear transmitter, and the trend is rising.
This was the result of a joint study by the management consultancy Roland Berger and the University of Münster, which caused a sensation and anger in industry circles this week. According to the paper, ARD, ZDF, RTL and Sat.1 are facing a growing decline in their viewership. Only about half of the viewing time (54 percent), the audience now spends today with linear television, falling tendency.
In the top five in overall viewing time, the three large linear German television providers are struggling with the two major streaming platforms: According to the survey, Netflix benefits from 10.3 percent of the audiovisual media time budget of the German general public. After that, RTL (10.0 percent), ZDF (9.8 percent) and ARD (8.8 percent) followed, followed by Amazon (8.7 percent).
A development that will continue according to the authors of the study. About one third of the TV consumption will migrate to the digital platforms in ten years - with young viewers even two-thirds. The result would be not only a massive loss of importance of public service broadcasting in Germany, but also a massive slump in advertising revenues among private broadcasters. Both factors taken together are likely to completely change the German media scene.
Where do the German media go?
The study entitled "Quo Vadis, German Media - The Future of German Television Providers in Digital Streaming Times", which is also available on the internet, is based on a survey of 1,600 German television viewers. The company Roland Berger has not created them on behalf of a single customer, but it should be used in future consulting activities for media companies solution-oriented. An important detail, because - of course - the more drastic the Berger finding is, the more likely it is that the potential advisory clients feel they should be addressed, who should be acquired with this finding. This legitimate commercial aspect must be kept in mind when evaluating the study.
For at the moment there is also a dispute over who can best represent the shifts that are no longer tangible with the old methodologies of spectator surveying on today's disruptive television market. Therefore, a violent contradiction arose immediately when the "Quo Vadis" report had been published.
ARD accused the authors of the study of technical defects. "Essential aspects of the underlying investigation are not made transparent," said a spokesman. This applies, for example, to the methodological standards for the collection of reach and time budgets. The "very short field time of only two weeks for 1571 cases let doubt the representativeness of the survey," said the ARD Another criticism: "The study claimed only for the group of 16- to 69-year-olds validity. Whether she is at least representative of this group can not be assessed at all due to the lack of information. "
Or still look 76 percent linear?
At the same time, the ARD referred to the recently published representative study "ARD / ZDF mass communication Trends 2019" with the results of the Kantar Institute. The data are based on a representative dual-frame sample of a total of 2000 persons aged 14 and over in Germany and were collected in a period from the end of January to mid-April 2019, ie actually for a much longer period than the "Quo-Vadis "-Study. The key message is: In the total population, linear television accounts for the vast majority of video usage. The share here is 76 percent.
So everything is not so bad for the linear television providers in Germany? Yes, yes, really bad. The Kantar study also shows - less drastic but very clear - the departure of young viewers from classical television. It states: "Analogous to the useful life, the trend for the time-reliable use of video and audio is also apparent after reach of under-30s: streaming services, video platforms and media libraries have caught up with the classic distribution channels."
more on the subject
So how one misses the audience: The structural change in television consumption is obvious. Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster is therefore calling for a "substantial changeover" of the German television service providers in the interview with SPIEGEL: "People, wake up, you are making great TV, but you are not yet doing great streaming."
US capital is flooding the market
In fact, the wake up calls can not be drastic enough. At the moment, US corporations are also flooding the German market with capital. A brutal cutthroat competition, which also has an effect on local linear television (read here a detailed article about the future of television). For the two established platform giants Netflix (sales 2018: 15.8 billion dollars) and Amazon (247.1 billion) encounter this November not only Apple (304 billion) as a new competitor, but also the Disney Group (59.5 billion). In addition, the entertainment giant Warner Media (sales with parent company AT & T together: 189.7 billion) has announced its portfolio with TV providers such as HBO or TNT strategically to bundle and broader.
The new players from the USA are better positioned not only in terms of capital, but above all in terms of customer loyalty. One aspect that Niko Herbig, who is responsible for the "Quo Vadis" study for Roland Berger, names in the introduction: In contrast to linear television, the digitally organized competition has exact customer profiles: "Thanks to in-depth data analysis, the streaming providers know exactly what the audience likes to see - and can make pinpoint recommendations.The importance of this know-how is evidenced by the following figure: At Netflix, for example, more than six out of ten hours of sight are based on a personalized recommendation. "
So while in this country is struggling over how to generate reliable data from audience movements, the US streaming competition has long since found an exact new form of audience measurement for themselves.
Whether the representatives of German television, as we knew so far, learn from these alarming findings, can not be said at the moment. At the ARD Intendant Conference last week, all relevant decisions regarding digitization were postponed. And just on Wednesday celebrated the media group RTL with Voxup the start of the ninth channel in the house, a linear programmed free-TV channel, where once again old hits of the broadcaster network like "Shopping Queen" or "Ally McBeal" are pampered. The future of television looks different.