Market Insight

Magine TV ends B2C subscription business with German closure

January 28, 2019  | Subscribers Only

Max Signorelli Max Signorelli Research Analyst – Home Entertainment, IHS Markit

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After more than five years, German virtual pay TV operator Magine TV has ceased its direct to consumer offering. Magine TV stopped offering new subscriptions as of 28 January 2019 and will officially close operations a month later, on 28 February. The closure will allow Magine to focus on its B2B business which provides OTT video platforms for clients such as beIN Media in MENA and France and Swedish telco Sappa.

As part of the closure, Magine has partnered with Zattoo, another regional virtual pay TV operator to provide current Magine TV subscribers with a two-month free trial to its Zattoo PREMIUM package, offering a similar live TV channel portfolio to Magine TV’s previous ‘Comfort HD’ package.

Our analysis

Magine TV’s withdrawal from the German market marks the end of Magine’s D2C subscription business operations, having originally launched in Sweden in 2013 (subsequently closed in May 2017 following failed distribution agreements). Germany came second, launching in beta in June 2013, followed by Spain in July 2013 (that closed 18 months later). Magine TV’s closure leaves its Nordic transactional OTT service Plejmo as its last remaining D2C outlet.

Germany’s virtual pay TV market is one of the most crowded in Europe and it should come as no surprise that some players have been unable to carve out a significant market share, although Magine is one of the first to fall at this point. Prior to closure, Magine TV had to compete with other players including TV Spielfilm, and indeed Zattoo, which also offers virtual pay TV in its home country of Switzerland. Sky Deutschland’s Sky Ticket leads the German virtual pay TV market although its business model is oriented towards premium Sky owned channels, whereas the others provide FTA and basic premium channels from the likes of ProSiebenSat.1, RTL and Discovery on an OTT basis. Given the difference in these business models, it is unlikely that market consolidation such as this was caused by, or will have much impact on the upcoming ProSieben-Discovery joint venture for a German OTT video platform.

The delivery method for these channels has varied greatly over Magine TV’s lifetime, at some points offering up to four core subscription packages with various paid additions. Such a system of tiering and a la carte channel additions is common among virtual pay TV operators although the rapid shift of pace and pricing for Magine TV is likely to have put off some long-term users. Furthermore, as Magine TV settled on the three-tier package system (one free, two paid) it went out on, closely following the pricing of Zattoo, Magine TV offered fewer channels and fewer channels in HD. An unfortunate turn for a service that prior, many users had considered a cheaper alternative to Zattoo.

IHS Markit believes that Magine TV’s closure is predominantly due to the strength of these contenders, especially Zattoo, making them an ideal partner to consolidate with. Zattoo offers a sizeable portfolio of TV channels including international channel packages from countries such as Turkey, Poland and Croatia. Although conversion to Zattoo is not guaranteed for the exiled Magine TV subscribers, uptake of such a similar TV package for a near identical price after an extended free trial is highly likely, leaving Zattoo to extend its position as one of the most popular pure OTT virtual pay TV services in Germany.

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