Telecommunications operator CRA (České Radiokomunikace) is set to introduce a national video-on-demand platform featuring programs from major Czech television stations. This initiative comes in the wake of unsuccessful attempts by Czech Television, Nova, and Prima to create a joint platform, amid competition from global giants like Netflix and HBO.
The concept of a unified application faced significant hurdles, particularly in terms of platform ownership and profit sharing. TV Nova's boss Daniel Grunt encapsulated the industry's concerns, asking, “Whose platform will it be? Who will have what shares? How will the income be distributed?"
CRA, leveraging its prowess in cloud services and content distribution, steps in as a potential solution provider. Marcel Procházka, CRA's legal department director, highlighted the company's significant internet traffic contributions, asserting, "At evening peak times, we generate half of the traffic of the Czech Internet."
CRA's proposed platform, nicknamed Czechflix, aims to function as an online marketplace, aggregating diverse programs in one location. This initiative seeks to eliminate the complexities that impeded the broadcasters' collaboration.
Procházka explained the concept: "The viewer would not have to switch between individual broadcasters when he wants to watch different types of programs. He would have everything in one place." The app would be available on digital terrestrial TV through HbbTV, and on mobile devices.
CRA's approach to Czechflix focuses on technological facilitation without imposing revenue sharing. Procházka emphasized the collaborative nature of the venture: "No one loses anything, no one has to share anything. There are strong multinational players coming in, so this app could be the defense and it will compete with the international platforms.”
The future of the platform, whether offering free or nominally priced content, is still under discussion. CRA CEO Miloš Mastník observed the changing landscape, noting, "The penetration of digital terrestrial TV has remained stable recently, at 54%.. the future is a symbiosis of terrestrial broadcasting and the Internet."