Video-on-Demand Changes Viewing Habits in Germany

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Video-on-Demand Changes Viewing Habits in Germany

Digital video viewing is already big business in Germany. TNS’s recent “Connected Life” study found that 71.0% of weekly web users ages 16 to 65 in the country watched video on digital devices in June 2014. Now video-on-demand (VOD) services are gaining popularity too, according to an August 2014 survey of 1,000 users of the maxdome online video portal. The top reasons for using VOD among internet users in Germany included the convenience of timeshifting—cited by 79% of respondents—and the ability to avoid ads, mentioned by 72%. Almost half (46%) said they enjoyed not having to wait for the next episode of a favorite TV series.

This data tends to confirm that access to VOD prompts fundamental changes in the ways consumers engage with films and TV shows. More than 60% of maxdome respondents (61% of males and 65% of females) said they watched more prime video content overall, and at least half of both gender groups reported buying fewer DVDs as a result. One-third (33%) of men and 23% of women said they went to a cinema less often. Moreover, there were signs that DVD and cinema viewing might eventually vanish altogether, at least for some respondents. Fully half of males and 33% of females could imagine that one day they would use only VOD services to see movies and TV shows.

The launch of US-based VOD provider Netflix in France, Germany and four other Western European countries in mid-September 2014 has animated the debate about the potential of paid-for video services in the region. Netflix pricing in Germany will be the same as in France—with packages starting at €7.99 ($10.65) per month. This is also the monthly fee for a maxdome subscription. Like maxdome and a handful of other local rivals, Netflix lets members see movies, TV shows and series at any time on any digital device. Some of the series available via Netflix have never been shown in Germany before; the firm also claims it will create bespoke content for Germany if demand is sufficient.

Some observers still doubt whether Netflix can crack this market, though. As a journalist for broadcaster Deutsche Welle pointed out, Germany has two public channels funded by fees imposed on all TV owners, as well as several commercially financed private broadcasters, so viewers already have a wide range of (admittedly linear) content on offer. And while many younger, digitally savvy viewers embrace streaming, older consumers are typically more conservative—meaning Netflix is faced with “an aging country that’s slow to change.” A few months will likely tell whether those in this older population also warm to seeing their favorite programs and films on demand.

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