September 4, 2006 7:37 pm

ProSieben buys into ‘German YouTube’

ProSiebenSat1 Media, Germany’s largest commercial television company, has bought a 30 per cent stake in MyVideo, a German video website that models itself on the fast-growing YouTube of the US.

The Munich-based group is the first German broadcaster to meet the challenge of “community” sites by joining rather than fighting new rivals that offer advertisers new lures to reach the masses.

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Guillaume de Posch, chief executive, refused to say how much his group had paid for the MyVideo stake, adding only that ProSieben had an option to buy the 70 per cent of stock still in private hands.

The deal underlines the rush of traditional media groups globally to secure a share of internet advertising, whose growth is largely causing old-style TV and newspaper revenues to stagnate.

MyVideo Broadband is registered in Romania, but the money behind it is largely German. People close to the deal named the main backers as internet entrepreneurs Oliver and Alexander Samwer.

Launched at the end of April, ProSieben said MyVideo’s German website registers about 2m downloads every day. MyVideo also runs less frequented sites for Poland, France and Spain.

That means MyVideo attracts only a fraction of the more than 100m daily downloads that YouTube recently reported. But ProSieben said that MyVideo was still the most widely used German language video website.

RTL Television, ProSieben’s German rival and a part of media giant Bertelsmann, last month launched the site Clipfish.de, which boasts about one sixth the number of films of MyVideo’s 60,000.

The Samwer brothers have shown a fortunate hand in importing innovations to Germany and then selling. They made their start with the sale of online auction house Alando.de to Ebay six years ago.

In 2004, they sold Jamba, a German online service selling ringtones for mobile phones, to VeriSign of the US.

German versions of US inventions have nonetheless often developed distinctive signatures – and MyVideo seems to be no different. Unlike its US cousin, the German web service is not coy about sex.

While YouTube offers a clean and healthy range of video categories from Arts to Video Games, MyVideo includes the categories Crazy and Erotica.

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