Italian media group MediaForEurope (MFE), formerly known as Mediaset, sees building a continental TV supergroup as the answer to challenges posed to Europe’s traditional domestic broadcasters by global streaming services, Ampere Analysis remarked in its latest report.
Controlled by the family of Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, MFE owns the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy and launched a bid in March to take full control of its Spanish affiliate Mediaset España. Seen as a step towards creating a European broadcasting giant, MFE plans to purchase the 44% stake in Mediaset España that it does not already own.
According to Ampere Analysis, traditional broadcasters must adapt to remain competitive with global streamers’ extensive content libraries and high content budgets. MFE is already the largest spender on content of all commercial broadcasting groups in Europe’s big five markets. The combined content spend of its Italian and Spanish operations stood at €1.3 billion in 2021, trailing only the large content budgets of public broadcasters: ARD/ZDF, France Télévisions and the BBC. The creation of a pan-European media giant offers an opportunity to gain further scale and expand production resources.
MFE is also a minority investor in German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, passing the 25% ownership threshold in March, with the group reported to be gradually building its stake before seeking full control. Based on 2021 figures, a merger of these European broadcasters would create a combined annual content budget of over €2 billion.
“Assembling a cross-border alliance with scale to reach a European audience could prove an important advantage in the context of global competition. Strong partnership could open the possibility of a merger between Italian, Spanish and German interests to create a European broadcasting supergroup. Synergies could be limited to advertising and platform technology, however a larger group would be able to better absorb high programming costs, co-produce content and buy broadcasting rights on a pan-European basis,” said Neil Anderson, Analyst at Ampere Analysis and the author of the report.
MFE would be following pay TV operator Sky in pursuing a multi-country footprint in the ongoing consolidation of the media market. Taking control of both Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia in 2014, Sky has over 20 million subscribers across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. "MFE’s efforts to create long-term value through cross-border partnership indicates a longer term trend in traditional domestic broadcasters teaming up to keep pace with global players and clawing back competitive advantage," Anderson added.