The television world in Germany consists of public, private and pay TV channels. The broadcasters finance themselves in very different ways. The public television channels (ARD, ZDF, third programs) collect GEZ fees of EUR 17.50 per month from every television viewer . Thus, they are also a kind of pay TV, just not officially called that. There is another difference to pay TV channels: Here the viewer has the choice whether to use the offer. In addition, advertising revenues flow into public law funds. The private broadcasters, on the other hand, finance themselves exclusively from advertising revenue . Pay TV channels have dual funding. They collect monthly fees from the viewer and are also financed by advertising revenue.
The most important pay TV channels
Pay TV is changing like the entire media landscape. Television behavior changes as does reading behavior. Today, only a few are still waiting for their newspaper to land in the mailbox in the morning. Television is also in this upheaval. The younger generation can no longer be dictated to television times. They look when they want. As a result, streaming services and IPTV are on the rise . TV junkies can currently watch around 108 pay-TV programs. The “Big 4” essentially share the market: Sky Germany, Vodafone GigaTV, Magenta TV and Unitymedia . However, more and more IPTV providers are entering the market.
With the rapidly changing conditions, it is advisable to remain flexible. For example, if the broadcasting rights for sports programs change, the subscriber may wish to cancel their Pay TV subscription . The notice period depends on the contract term. A few years ago it was still 12 to 24 months, but today monthly subscriptions or single tickets are no problem. The subscriber only has to ensure that the notice period specified in the contract is observed.
Types of reception for pay TV channels
The top dog in the pay-TV sector is still Sky Deutschland . If you want to watch Bundesliga live, there is no getting around Sky. However, Sky would like to create a broader mainstay and therefore also produces its own series , such as “ Babylon Berlin ” and “ Das Boot ”. Which pay-TV channel the consumer can ultimately choose also depends on the type of reception and the place of residence. The most common types of reception are cable TV (DVB-C) and satellite TV (DVB-S). If there is cable television at home, the consumer can choose between Kabel Deutschland (Vodafone), Unity Media (NRW, Hessen) and Kabel BW. The television viewer receives more free channels via satellite. Both types of reception have their advantages and disadvantages.
The user needs a digital receiver for both cable TV and satellite TV . This is used to decode digitally transmitted services (DVB format). The receiver is either integrated in the television or an independent device (set-top box) . A monthly fee is payable for cable television, which saves the user the satellite dish. In bad weather, cable television still ensures transmission, while the satellite dish requires a clear view of the satellite. Another advantage is that Internet and telephone connections can also be used at the same time with cable connections . Satellite television offers a wide range of channels, very good picture and sound quality and so far no monthly costs for the public programs. In addition, no contract with a cable network operator is necessary. All that remains is a one-time investment in a satellite system, its installation and cabling.
An alternative type of reception is Internet TV (IPTV) . The television viewer receives his program on the Internet. At the moment, IPTV does not play a major role. However, this may change in subsequent generations. Current providers are Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom . So that the end devices can receive and process the data volume, there is a DSL connectionessential. The transmission rate should be as high as possible, in any case above 50 Mbit per second. The user needs a set-top box for transmission to the television. IPTV offers more programs than cable television. Its trump card is interactivity. The user can choose his program by keyword or genre. The on-demand offers are also practical. The user pulls his program completely independent of broadcast times. There are no additional monthly costs for the IPTV packages.
For those who value a wide range of different transmitters , the satellite is the best type of reception . Pay-TV can be received with all of the above types. All the user needs is a digital receiver with a smart card (decoder).
The Big 4 Pay TV channels in comparison
The decision for a pay TV station is made according to the requirements of the consumer. One of the main reasons is that not all Bundesliga or Champions League games are free to receive . Each Pay TV broadcaster offers packages that the user can book. We explain where the focal points and differences are. We focus on the Big 4: Sky Deutschland, Vodafone GigaTV, Magenta TV and Unitymedia Horizon TV.
Sky Deutschland (formerly Premiere) is still the largest pay TV broadcaster. Sky can be received via cable, satellite and IPTV. The broadcaster offers several lines. Sky Classic includes four packages (entertainment, cinema, Bundesliga and sports) . The monthly packages of individual divisions are mostly around 9.99 euros. There is usually a special offer with 4.99 euros per month, after which the user pays 9.99 euros. The more branches the user chooses, the more expensive it becomes. Sky also offers a streaming service via Sky Ticket. With Sky Q is possible , record movies and watch on-demand. Sky Q also includes films and series from Netflix, as well as many media libraries. 19.99 euros are due monthly (14.99 euros in the first year).
Vodafone GigaTV can be received via the cable connection or the Internet. Vodafone offers various packages. The GigaTV package including HD Premium includes 113 channels in SD quality and 75 channels in HD quality . The smaller packages contain fewer transmitters. HD quality can be booked for 9.99 euros a month. The prices range from 9.99 euros to 14.99 euros per month. The cheapest is the basic TV package for 3.99 euros per month. Vodafone also offers a GigaTV app for 9.99 euros a month.
Telekom Magenta TV
Telekom Magenta TV can be received via satellite and the Internet. Telekom offers public and private TV channels, sports and a media library with series, films and documentaries. Magenta TV can be combined with Sky. The Magenta TV, Magenta TV Plus and Magenta TV Netflix packages differ in the number of HD channels included. The cheapest package starts at € 44.95 a month, the middle one is € 49.95 and the Netflix package costs € 58.95 a month. The first 6 months are discounted.
Unitymedia Horizon TV
Unitymedia is part of Vodafone. Horizon TV can only be received via the Unitymedia cable connection or via the Internet. Unitymedia offers an entertainment package. These include live TV, time-shifted television, apps, TV media libraries, private channels in HD. For this, 9.99 euros are due monthly. Options can also be booked for the package. The Allstars option includes the Series & Movies, Sports and Docu packages for EUR 11.99 per month. The Horizon Go package includes media libraries and online for on the go (Apple AirPlay is possible) for 4.99 euros per month. There is also the Sky option with the bundles Bundesliga, Sport and Film for 39.49 euros per month.
The pay TV channels in the course of time
Sky Deutschland has been the top dog among pay TV channels for years. This was also because the broadcaster always secured the Champions League rights. Sky has recently received competition from DAZN and Amazon . The streaming service offers international sports by stream and on demand. For this, 10 euros per month are due. From the 2021/2022 season, Sky will no longer broadcast the Champions League. The rights have been secured by DAZN and Amazon. The ZDF broadcasts the finals 2022 to 2024.
Sky is also at risk in the entertainment sector . The future lies in the streaming area and two giants are entering the market: Apple TV + and Disney . Apple entered a field in November 2019 in which it had not previously operated. The company previously focused on end devices and the corresponding software, but now delivers content. In fact, there are nine formats at a price of 4.99 euros per month. Apple TV + is free for iPhone owners in the first year. It will be shown to what extent the formats are accepted by the audience. In principle, it is nothing new that Netflix already offers: series, comedy, children’s and youth series, a documentary film and a literary show by Oprah Winfrey.
Disney + should be a little easier than Apple. The entertainment giant has plenty to offer when it comes to content. Cartoon classics come from Disney’s pen, such as Mickey Mouse and DuckTales . In the action area, the giants Marvel and Star Wars belong to the Disney group. Disney + is said to start with over 500 films. The monthly price has not yet been published, but should be just under 7 euros per month. Disney + is scheduled to launch in Europe around mid-2020. Disney is currently expiring all contracts with cooperation partners. The perfect preparation for your own charisma.
Growing streaming area – what role does Sky play?
The successful streaming channels show how it works: Pay TV is also easy. They focus on successful lines of business and keep their offer cheap. No complicated selection of different packages and additional options. The customer decides whether he wants HD or UHD and selects the number of his end devices. Netflix starts at € 7.99 a month. With HD, the price is just under 14 euros. Amazon also charges 7.99 euros for Prime including video . Sky is still lagging behind. If the user decides on all four packages, he will pay an impressive 69.99 euros. HD resolution is not yet included. Sky takes another 9.99 euros. Almost 80 euros per month for mainly film and series repetitions. Sky has to moveif it wants to play a leading role in the pay-TV sector in the future.
Sky has ventured into the streaming area, but the offer is clear. Football streams are simply not available in the Sky app , error messages are the rule rather than the exception. There is also a gap between the beautiful Sky advertising world and reality. To watch the latest films earlier than on private channels, an additional option is required: Sky Select. This ensures that the viewer sees the films after the cinema release, at the latest with the DVD start. Even sporting events and music concerts can be received without the individual packages. The user chooses between 9 select channels such as Adrenalin, HD and Blue Movie. Select Event A (concerts) and Select Event B (events) are also available for major events. The single call usually costs 4 euros, for HD there are about 6 euros and for events about 15 euros.
Pay TV – what does the future look like?
Nobody has a crystal ball to look into the future. Nevertheless, trends are recognizable . They show how the market will develop. Streaming offers are increasing . This is partly due to the low monthly price of around 7 euros. On the other hand, the user chooses from an immense offer at the desired time . Market leader Sky has recognized the trend – that is indisputable. There is Sky Ticket and Sky Q for that . But does the boom in streaming services mean the end of linear TV channels? Hardly likely. Streaming services for films and series are interesting. In principle, it doesn’t matter when they are viewed. However, if you want to experience the excitement of a live event, look at the appropriate time. That applies toLive sports broadcasts, such as the World Cup, Champions League, Olympia and concerts.
For all TV stations and streaming service providers, the competition for the viewer’s attention remains – and this in a time flooded with stimuli. Here the creativity of the creators is required to deliver content that inspires the audience. Netflix and Co. demonstrate that this is possible. The future will therefore be a combination of attractive linear content and on-demand offersfor all target groups. Ultimately, the customer decides which offer to use. Here, too, flexibility increases with offers that can be canceled monthly. If the customer no longer feels comfortable with one offer, he switches to the next. The younger generation uses various offers anyway. The cheaper the prices, the more likely it is that consumers will not just commit to a pay TV provider.
The challenge remains the same for pay TV channels and free channels . Anyone who succeeds in offering interesting content for all end devices will receive the attention of consumers. Who knows, maybe at some point the consumer will have enough of being able to get canned films and series . At some point there may be the comeback of the live Saturday evening show, which captivates all family members. Then there is a family experience together in front of the television. Children watch with their parents and don’t stream alone in their room. A vision, a dream or utopia – that will show the future.