RTL Pumps $36 Million Into Canadian VOD Company in Partnership Deal

written by: Richard Kastelein

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rtl-group-logoRTL Group, the leading European entertainment network, and Vancouver-based online video company BroadbandTV today announced that they have formed a strategic partnership. RTL Group's initial investment of $36 million is part of a planned series of investments in the company. The business partnership between the two companies creates a new platform for RTL Group's digital strategy and allows the management team of BroadbandTV, led by Founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati, to accelerate its global growth strategy.

"BroadbandTV has been on a rapid growth trajectory since we began, and that pace will only accelerate with our partnership with RTL Group," said Shahrzad Rafati, Founder and CEO of BroadbandTV. "We are thrilled to have the powerful resources of RTL Group behind us. In addition to the competitive advantage for BroadbandTV, our customers and partners will benefit greatly from RTL Group's global reach, advertising sales and expertise in producing amazing content. Our skill sets are complementary and we share mutual goals. Together, we have defined an ambitious growth plan fuelled by investments in technology, advertising sales, content, international expansion and talent. We have a shared vision to achieve market leadership in the digital space. Above all, what inspires me about this new partnership is that, even more than ever, it will enable content owners and creators across the globe to achieve their ambitious goals, which is one of the key reasons for BroadbandTV's existence."

Founded in 2005, BroadbandTV first entered the online video market with a creative solution for helping large media organizations benefit from a new revenue stream: the company's innovative technology detects videos which are uploaded by fans on YouTube, and offers the organizations that own the IP a tool for monetizing the content. BroadbandTV has since expanded its portfolio to include tools for the management, optimization, protection and monetization of video content, and its target audiences to include media companies, content creators and advertisers.

BroadbandTV now works with more than 7,800 independent channel partners through its network brands VISO and TGN. The company drives success for content creators of all sizes, from independent video entrepreneurs such as Element Animation, to well-established media brands such as Discovery Communications. The number of video views to BroadbandTV sites grew by 169 per cent year-on-year, reaching 2.1 billion views, in the first quarter of 2013 alone.

"As the leading European entertainment network, RTL Group is committed to becoming a major player in all segments of the rapidly growing online video market, and is ideally positioned to do so," said Guillaume de Posch, Co-CEO of RTL Group. "Our major broadcasters have built leading catch-up TV services, while RTL Group's global content arm, FremantleMedia, has become the highest-rated TV producer on YouTube, with 135 channels currently generating 400 million video views per month. Today, we are delighted to announce a partnership with BroadbandTV and Shahrzad Rafati that will further our development. Broandband TV is one of the most innovative companies in the YouTube ecosystem. RTL Group's track record of allowing our businesses to be run autonomously by entrepreneurs means that BroadbandTV can maintain its culture and flexibility, while benefitting from our strong investment and partnership to drive continued growth."

Following the transaction, RTL Group holds a 51 per cent shareholding in BroadbandTV. In addition, RTL Group will appoint three members to the Board of BroadbandTV. RTL Group's operations and BroadbandTV will explore joint business opportunities in areas such as development of original content and advertising sales, further strengthening RTL Group's position in the online video market.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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