Prima focuses on strategic growth after MTG exit
MTG left the Czech TV market officially in April by finalizing the deal to sell its 50% stake in FTV Prima to Denemo Media. The move means the second biggest commercial broadcaster in the Czech Republic has been left without its major strategic partner and must now compete with rival Nova relying on its own resources. In an interview for TVBIZZ Magazine CEO Marek Singer tells Yako Molhov the transition has been pretty smooth as they are looking to continue to build on what they have achieved so far.
What has been Prima’s performance this season? What are your goals after the exit of such a major partner as MTG?
The average share of FTV Prima in 2016 in the 15-69 target group in primetime was 22.75 % (year-on-year growth of 1.01 p. b.). After the exit of MTG, no important changes are planned in the management or direction of FTV Prima. We are focusing on strategic growth on the Czech market and an increase of investments in our own production. New media and other activities demonstrate the owners´ determination for business growth.
You have offered a diversified slate of shows and series this spring. Which titles delivered the best results?
We are very happy with our 8pm drama series slots: premium crime and weekday series slots, all have successfully settled. The new original crime series Temný kraj (Dark County) broke all our records and attracted almost 1.7 million A15+ viewers on Sundays during peak times (season average SOV 31.6%). And both our long-running weekday series, the returning comedy drama Ohnivý kuře (Fiery Chicken), as well as the new medical drama Modrý kod (Code Blue), have been very successful, even in its highly competitive PT slots. Also the traditional Saturday entertainment slot has delivered excellent results; our viewers loved the shows like I Love My Country and Fort Boyard.
What are your new projects for the upcoming year?
The next original format of our Sunday detective series will be broadcast in the Fall. It will be an entirely new series called Kapitán Exner based on classic Czech detective novels.
How would you describe the situation on the TV and advertising markets in the Czech Republic?
According to our estimates, the TV market is growing single digits, although of course not all clients are involved in this. On the other hand, new TV clients are emerging, which increases the total amount of money. We have managed to substantially increase price of our ads for this year, and turn around deflationary trend of the past eight years. We believe this trend will continue into the next year.
What about your niche channels strategy? Any new channels planned for this year? Has the pay TV market come to a standstill now?
We are not planning any new channels at this time, and we are focusing on growing the current portfolio, representing third-party channels though our sales house Media Club, and developing HbbTV and our online portfolio. For example, we are launching a new web portal called Prima Nápady.cz (Prima Ideas), which focuses on the hobby segment. The goal is to create comprehensive business packages for individual clients in a given segment. The entire portfolio of media products would be traded – for example, in the case of the hobby segment, it can be sponsored in programs or directly in Teleshopping, branding on portal Prima Nápady.cz, or there can be product placement in hobby shows on TV Prima. Advertising could also be on our online portal iprima.cz, or as a part of the advertising section in the hobby print magazine Prima vychytávky, which we also successfully publish.
MTG says it will be focusing more on digital after leaving CEE. What are Prima’s plans in this respect? Are you planning content specifically produced for online distribution?
With regard to the development of online, primarily video content, we have launched a completely new version of the iprima.cz TV portal on June 1, and here we are currently streaming our channels as well as offering AVOD services. The entire website is created as a mobile version at the first place. In the coming months we will also be moving it to our HbbTV, where more and more of our spectators/users are heading. We are registering over one million unique smart TVs connected to the Internet and using our HbbTV services.
We create a large amount of other video content around our TV shows (such as bonus material, backstage interviews, making off, cut scenes, etc.) that is only for the internet and social media. We currently produce for COOL channel Online specific mid form content, and this we will accelerate within the next period of time.
You recently entered the Slovak market with the new Prima Plus channel. What are your plans for the channel? Have you solved the problem with the illegal broadcasts of Prima?
Prima Plus currently only broadcasts our own Czech production, but we do not exclude the possibility that we will add some Slovak movies or acquisitions of the Czech movie content. We hope to reach about a 1% SOV in one year. As far as we know, all major operators have replaced the illegal broadcast of Prima with Prima Plus. With the exception of Prima Plus, no other FTV Prima channel is broadcast in Slovakia with our consent.
Slovak pubcaster RTVS announced that it will ask Czech cable operators to stop distributing its signal in the country. Will this lead to changes on the market?
All Czech entities have long been discussing with the Slovak operators that they broadcast their signal without their consent. The biggest Czech commercial broadcasters have come to the stage, that they started to offer “Slovak” versions of their Czech channels, enabling operators to keep channels with Czech content in Slovakia legally. So now it is up to them.
Will you continue to make joint projects with JOJ?
Coproduction or joint projects with TV channels or other media that share our ideas and the core audience profile, are the essential part of our long-term development and OP strategy. Yes, naturally we plan to cooperate with JOJ in future. Recently we cooperated on a drama series called 1890 and the entertainment show Take Me Out.
CME is slowly pulling its channels out of the FTA market. Do you expect TV Nova to do the same in the Czech Republic? Are you also considering increasing revenues from distribution, or even dropping DVB-T broadcasts?
DVB-T is the biggest segment in the Czech Republic. Close to 60% of households. So it is a much more important topic than in Slovakia or anywhere else in CEE. We are holding talks with the DVB-T operators; however, we still have not received any specific business offers for DVB-T2. The debate about who should finance the transition is and should be led by the state, the EU and the operators. We certainly will not want to pay for this - it is a state-imposed process. These are the main issues we are addressing in the context of the transition to DVB-T2 - what the competition will look like, in what quality will which channels be broadcast, how many channels there will be, who will pay for them, etc. All those need to be clarified within 2 years maximum, because as of Q2 2020 DVB-T2 will need to be synchronized with Germany.