News | Hilversum, 05/31/2023

“We Are Always Exploring New Genres And Formats“

Boost@Bertelsmann: RTL Nederland

In an interview, Ellen van den Berghe, Chief Marketing Officer of RTL Nederland, discusses the development and market environment of the group’s successful streaming platform Videoland as well as future projects.

Ellen van den Berghe has been serving as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of RTL Nederland and sat on the company’s Executive Board since February 2023, and thus oversees the marketing and direct to consumer activities. However, she has known the company for much longer: she joined RTL Nederland as a trainee back in 2011 and has since held successive roles in content and video-on-demand. She was also involved in the development of Videoland, RTL Nederland’s successful streaming platform, from the beginning. In 2017, she was appointed Head of Content at Videoland, where her remit included content strategy. Videoland was originally founded as a video rental chain in 1984. In 2013, RTL Nederland took over Videoland’s digital arm and expanded its video-on-demand offering with movies, series and documentaries from RTL Nederland channels, supplemented with original programming produced in-house. Since the beginning of 2014, formats from RTL 4, RTL 5, RTL 7 and RTL 8 have been available to watch via Videoland even before they are broadcast on TV; later, the option to watch the programs live on Videoland was added. In 2013, Videoland launched its subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service, and since then has continued to showcase exciting new formats that thrill and engage viewers in the Netherlands as well as internationally. These include formats such as the first Videoland Original “Zwarte Tulp,” (“Black Tulip“) a drama series, the crime series “Mocro Maffia” about the gang wars in Amsterdam, the reality adventure “Special Forces VIPS,” the new true-crime series “Bureau Dupin,” about the Dutch citizens’ initiative to solve unsolved murders, “Prins Bernhard” – the first TV documentary about the controversial Dutch prince – and a series about Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, which will be broadcast next year. The number of paying Videoland subscribers rose from 1.136 million at the end of March 2022 to 1.243 million at the end of March 2023 – and the trend continues upward. This puts the streaming service at number two in the Dutch market. Videoland offers three different pricing models: As of June 20, 2023, the Premium package with four simultaneous users will be available for 11.99 euros/month; the Plus package for two simultaneous users at 9.99 euros/month – both packages are free of advertising – and the Basic package at 4.99 euros/month for one user. The latter includes advertising, and doesn’t have the “download-to-go” option. In an interview, Ellen van den Berghe talks about the development and market environment of the streaming platform, and about future projects.

Ms. van den Berghe, the subscriber numbers at Videoland have been developing very positively in recent months. What makes you optimistic that this trend will continue?

We are optimistic because we have an appealing content slate for the coming months. This involves optimizing our schedule as well as clear choices on which content we will promote, which channels we use to promote our content, and which target audiences we focus on in order to continue this positive development. At the same moment, we managed to improve our churn rate – the number of customers who cancel their subscription – year on year, and we expect this positive trend to continue.

Do you plan to poach customers from other streaming services, or do you think the market will continue to grow in general?

The SVOD market in the Netherlands is still growing. The number of SVOD subscriptions grew by 50 percent in 2022. More than 60 percent of Dutch households have at least one SVOD subscription; this reflects a 10 percent increase in a single year. At the same time, competition is sharpening with the introduction of three new streaming services in 2022 – Viaplay, SkyShowtime and HBOMax. Now, more than 17 percent of households have four or more SVOD subscriptions. Videoland offer three tiers of membership with different price levels, so we are relevant for both “heavy” and “light” users, and we also see increasing interest for Videoland among the older target audience. We are not focused on poaching consumers from other streaming services. We have a unique proposition as the number-one streaming service for local content. Besides, we have included our linear channels and we have catch-up for all our content and exclusive previews of our linear content. Given our number two position in the market we are confident that we are on the right track.

Why is Videoland so successful in the Netherlands and what distinguishes Videoland from other streaming platforms?

First and foremost, our content. Our top priority is delivering exceptional local Videoland originals that resonate with and captivate our audiences. Each year we produce more than 50 different Videoland Original titles. Local content is at the heart of our streaming business and this is what sets us apart from the competition. And we also have a lot of the most popular linear titles from RTL’s content as previews and of course catch-up. Last year, we started showing live content like kickboxing and music concerts. Both show very promising results, but we are still exploring what works best here. We also work closely with Dutch talent – in front of and behind the scenes – and we are prepared to give them a lot of creative freedom. If we really want something, we can arrange it in a day without having to discuss it with a supervisor on the other side of the Atlantic. And last not but least, we also have strong marketing and communications departments that know how to bring the content to the market and the target groups.

Is there a specific target group that Videoland is particularly focused on?

We are very strong among 18- to 35-year-old female audiences, and are particularly popular with Excitement Seekers and Family Viewers: two target groups that have a strong affinity for SVOD, while also matching our DNA and heritage as a commercial TV group. Our growth target audiences are in the 35 to 55 age group, and we have acquired more male-skewed content like “Special Forces VIPS,” “Glory Kickboxing” matches, and “Bellator,” one of the biggest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) leagues. Dutch athletes are strongly represented in both leagues; that’s important for us. For 35- to 55-year-old target audiences, we release more documentaries, such as “Prins Bernhard“ or “Kees Vliegt Uit,” a film that follows a man with autism in his 50s through his detachment process from his ageing parents.

Which genres have been particularly popular in the recent past?

The most popular genres are Dutch drama and reality, but also true crime, documentary, and kickboxing. The big hits of the past couple of months at Videoland were “Echte Meisjes in de Jungle” (“Reality Queens in the Jungle”), “Kees Vliegt Uit” as I just mentioned, and the Mocro Maffia movie “Tatta.”

What is special about these popular formats?

All the stories we bring have local angles. High-profile Dutch stories that people love to talk about, which they can relate to, and which refer to current events. And we have access to talent, resources and spokespersons that can lift our content to another level. For example, John van den Heuvel, one of the top Dutch crime journalists.

What is so special about the Dutch TV market?

The Dutch market is traditionally strong in releasing and testing new formats. This is also what RTL is known for. Big hits like “The Voice,” “Big Brother” and more recently the hit show “The Traitors” all started at RTL in the Netherlands. Videoland is also a unique story within the streaming market. A number two position for a domestic streaming platform is rare in other countries.

How does the cooperation with RTL Nederland’s linear TV channels work?

We see linear and our SVOD business as an ideal combination, as they complement each other in terms of audience and viewing behavior. Formats like “B&B Full of Love” do very well on linear TV, while also generating new subscribers and high usage for Videoland. At the same time we are seeing a growth in the percentage of time-shifted viewing in the Netherlands, to more than 50 percent for some primetime formats. We want these audiences to catch up with their favorite shows on an RTL-owned platform, Videoland is ideal for this.

What are the key factors that influence a show’s popularity and performance?

There are several key factors that influence performance. First and foremost, the content itself: the local angle, talent or participants – does it appeal to a specific target audience, does it have some urgency and are people going to talk about the story?

Are there plans for Videoland to enter completely new territory in the future – in terms of genre or format?

We are always exploring new genres and formats. But our main focus is on four pillars. We want to be the home of Dutch drama, Dutch reality, Dutch true crime and Dutch fighting.

Are there already exciting projects planned for the future that you can reveal?

We are currently developing a free tier for Videoland which will replace the 7-day catch-up platform RTL XL. This will bring a lot of new customers into our service and will serve as an opportunity to grow their interest in a paid offer. And as stated before, we are expanding our live offer to our base. Last year we already brought live events like “Glory Kickboxing,” concerts like “Guus Meeuwis: Groots met een Zachte G,” “Vrienden van Amstel Live” and “Holland zingt Hazes.” We will be offering most of these concerts again this year. And we also have new deals like the live “Bellator MMA” sport events and the “Concert at Sea” music event. And there is more to come!