On September 13, 2022, the German ProSiebenSat.1 group announced the acquisition of the remaining 50% of shares in VOD platform Joyn from Warner Bros. Discovery. Initially established as a joint venture of 7TV with Discovery in 2017, Joyn has been operating under its current name since 2019. It started as an ad-supported service and in November 2019 expanded with the introduction of Joyn Plus+, a premium subscription tier.
Joyn’s regular tier offers both local and acquired overseas content, accompanied by advertisements, as well as live streaming, while the Joyn Plus+ subscription plan includes original and exclusive films and series, ad-free streaming, and an expanded selection of high-definition channels, including pay TV options. ProSieben’s partnership with Discovery was one of the key drivers for its strategy of aggregation as a way of setting its streaming service apart from local rivals, bundling over 70 live channels along with an on-demand catalogue boosted by overseas content from Discovery brands.
However, the departure of Discovery resulted in some uncertainty around the platform’s strategy going forward. Following a reported 12% drop in TV advertising revenue for ProSieben in the first quarter of 2023, the CEO of the company’s entertainment arm and Head of Joyn strategy, Wolfgang Link, exited in June to leave overall CEO Bert Habets in direct control of the platform. Habets, who has been a vocal supporter of the idea of acquiring content from and partnering with other German-language broadcasters to create a local “super platform” in the past, doubled down on that strategy in his first public statements following Link’s exit.
According to Ampere Analysis’ latest report, the strategic shift to a more local content focus for the streaming service is partly a practical one. While Joyn retains access to Warner Bros. Discovery channels in its live streaming offering, the departure of Discovery has led to a drastic reduction in the quantity of content available in Joyn’s on-demand catalogues, where German content now predominates. The overall volume of content hours available to users of the platform’s AVOD tier was down 46% in Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. US content alone was down over 6000 content hours, a 79% reduction on Q1 2022. While paying subscribers retained access to a premium selection of licensed content, US content was down 74% at Joyn Plus+ also.
“With global services like Warner Bros. Discovery’s own Max cutting content commissioning in several European markets, there is a clear opportunity for local players to capitalize on the decrease in competition for local-language content. Habets has been clear that while cost-cutting is planned at Joyn, investment in original production has been ring-fenced,” commented Illia Abusaitov, Researcher at Ampere Analysis and the author of the report.
However, German audiences’ content preferences vary distinctly by demographic, with 74% of under-35s saying they watch US TV series “very often” or “sometimes” in Ampere’s Q1 2023 consumer survey, compared to only 59% for TV series produced in Germany. Under-35s are the target demographic for Joyn’s influencer-centred Unscripted Reality Originals such as “Slavik – Auf Staats Nacken” and “Hausparty X,” but the platform – which has only ordered 11 new such shows over the past year – will have to “up its commissioning to both keep younger audiences engaged with local originals and attract a wider pool of consumers to the service,” Abusaitov concluded.