German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has confirmed reports it plans to shutter its on-demand portal maxdome this summer, part of a plan to merge its content and convert its users over to Joyn, its joint venture with Discovery. ProSieben has already stopped allowing new users to sign up to maxdome, directing them to Joyn instead. In time maxdome will be shuttered completely, though the maxdome login may be kept to allow users to buy films directly.
Maxdome was one of the earliest video on-demand offerings to be brought to market by a European broadcaster. ProSiebenSat.1 launched maxdome in August 2006, ahead of the likes of RTL’s TVNow (January 2007), the BBC’s iPlayer (July 2007), and ITV’s ITV Hub (December 2008). Maxdome grew steadily, reaching over one million paid subscribers in 2016. That same year, maxdome branched out into original content for the first time with comedy series ‘Jerks’.
Prior to 2018, maxdome formed a core part of ProSiebenSat.1’s strategy was consistently highlighted in its financial reports as one of the company’s big successes. But since announcing Joyn in June 2018, ProSiebenSat.1 have realised that collaboration could strengthen their hand in the market.
The move is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the closure means ProSieben will no longer run a standalone SVOD service. Joyn uses a hybrid model, offering both a free, entirely ad supported subscription, as well as a paid subscription. Most content which used to be available on maxdome is housed within the premium subscription tier, but this content is not entirely ad-free (ProSieben describes it as a “largely advertising-free” experience).
Secondly, it means ProSieben is betting solely on a joint venture for its on-demand strategy. ProSieben clearly thinks cooperation is key to success in the streaming wars, bolstering its own library of content with Discovery’s. Despite maxdome’s popularity, for a long time now it’s subscriber count has been well behind Netflix’s and Amazon Prime’s. Joyn so far has managed to quickly grow its subscriber count, though it still has a way to go to catch up with its international rivals. In August last year, just a few months after Joyn launched, ProSieben claimed it has reached 3.8 million monthly users – beating out Maxdome and fellow Joyn predecessor 7TV.
Broadcasters around Europe are also teaming up to compete in the streaming wars. In the UK, the BBC, ITV have been joined by Channel 4 for their SVOD service BritBox. Meanwhile in France TF1, M6 and France Télévisions are gearing up to launch their service Salto later this year. So far these broadcasters are all still choosing to maintain their own individual streaming services alongside their joint ventures. But as the streaming wars heat up, it will be interesting to see whether any others opt for the same strategy, and go all-in on these single destination cooperatives whilst doing away with their individual apps.