Germans embracing TV streaming services in record numbers

The German home entertainment market surpassed €9 billion in 2018, according to new figures, further indicating that subscription based video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to gain popularity in the Bundesrepublik.

Germans embracing TV streaming services in record numbers
Actor Volker Bruch as Gereon Rath in the series Babylon Berlin / Source: DPA

“Amazon Prime Video remains the market leader, but Netflix continues to make strong gains, with 50% growth of subscriptions in 2018,” said Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting which conducted the research. “The two services are mostly complementary and there is room for both to thrive.” 

Subscription video on demand services have shown – and are forecasted to show – continued growth in the home entertainment market, which also includes pay-TV services and transactional digital video services.

Futuresource estimates a quarter of Germans utilize one or more subscription video services. Germany’s subscription video on demand market is projected to double in the years between 2017 in 2019, and exceed €1 billion in 2020. 

SEE ALSO: This is how Germans spend their free time

Different than their European neighbours

Veale also says that, unlike their European neighbours, Germans are still utilizing pay-TV accounts, or premium TV subscriptions. Other countries are noticing plateaus and, in some cases, declines in pay-tv, which are TV channels you can view with a subscription such as Sky.

Yet in Germany, Veale says, “there is increased dynamism in the market, with an increased number of providers offering low cost, ‘pay-TV lite’ services as alternatives” to basic cable plans and premium subscriptions. 

That so-called dynamism in Germany’s home entertainment market has also contributed to the popularity of “Made in Germany” content exhibited by shows like Babylon Berlin, Four Blocks, Dark, and Deutschland 83 and 86. 

“The main reason is probably the development driven by the likes of Netflix and Amazon,” Torsten Zarges, a senior reporter at German publication DWDL, previously told The Local. “There are so many more platforms that need good content.”

SEE ALSO: Why 'made in Germany' TV has captured the imagination of the world

While Germany remains what Futuresource describes as Europe’s “shining light” in Blu-ray, consumers are expected to spend more on renting or purchasing digital movies and TV shows than on DVDs and Blu-rays by 2021. 

Veales also contend that the increase in services like Netflix and Amazon is likely due to the popularity of Smart-TVs. “Germany has one of the highest levels of smart TV ownership in Europe,” says Veale. 

Zarges said creatives in Germany were previously limited to ideas that could only work on mainstream television channels but they were now “able to think outside the box.”

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Germany opens ‘anti-competition’ probe into Amazon with tougher law

Germany's competition authority said Tuesday it had opened an inquiry into online retail giant Amazon over potential "anti-competitive practices", using a new law giving regulators more power to rein in big tech companies.

Germany opens 'anti-competition' probe into Amazon with tougher law
An Amazon warehouse in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Federal Cartel Office head Andreas Mundt said his office is examining whether Amazon has “an almost unchallengeable position of economic power” and whether it “operates across various markets”.

If so, it would be deemed of “paramount significance”, said Mundt, adding that the regulator could “take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by Amazon”.

“This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers,” he added.

Under the amendment to Germany’s competition law passed in January, the watchdog said it now has more power to “intervene earlier and more effectively” against big tech companies, rather than simply punishing them for abuses of their dominant market position.

READ ALSO: ‘I want to know origin of my grapes’: Amazon loses fruit and veg ruling in German court

The German reform coincided with new EU draft legislation unveiled in December aimed at curbing the power of the internet behemoths that could shake up the way Silicon Valley can operate in the 27-nation bloc.

The push to tighten legislation comes as big tech companies are facing increasing scrutiny around the globe, including in the United States, where Google and Facebook are facing antitrust suits.

The Amazon probe is only the second time that Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has made use of its new powers, after first employing them to widen the scope of an investigation into Facebook over its integration of virtual reality headsets.

The watchdog already has two traditional abuse control proceedings open against Amazon.

One involves the company’s use of algorithms to influence the pricing of third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace, while another is probing the extent to which Amazon and major producers such as Apple exclude third parties from
selling brand products.