European Broadcasters Said to Start Video Advertising Alliance

  • ProSiebenSat.1, TF1, Mediaset to rival Google, Facebook
  • New London-based firm to offer access to European video ads

Three major European broadcasters are in advanced talks to start a digital video-advertising company to counter online players such as Facebook Inc. and Google that have lured away clients from traditional TV, according to people familiar with the matter.

The venture between ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE of Germany, Television Francaise 1 SA in France and Italy’s Mediaset SpA would sell access to pan-European ad campaigns that would appear on the Internet and on web-connected TVs, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the venture before it was announced.

ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediaset declined to comment. TF1 didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The new venture, to be based in London, is the latest sign that Europe’s broadcasters are increasingly willing to join forces to gain scale as they compete for ad clients with global tech firms such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook, and battle online rivals like Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. for viewers. In January, the three broadcasters formed an alliance to jointly push their online video efforts.

With the new venture, the broadcasters aim to give their clients an alternative to the highly focused advertising offered by U.S. technology companies that is based on web-surfing habits, the people said. The campaigns will appear on outlets ranging from TV channels’ catch-up platforms to media websites.

The broadcasters will ensure that clients’ video ads won’t be posted next to inappropriate content as happened in March, when major advertisers across Europe and Asia appeared alongside extremist videos on YouTube. The technology platform will be open, to encourage other European media companies to get involved in a bid to gain more scale, the people said.

The advertising venture builds on a January alliance between ProSiebenSat.1, TF1 and Mediaset. Their prime asset, Studio71, racks up about 6 billion video views a month with online video stars ranging from Hollywood big shots such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to LeFloid, a tattooed German who became the first YouTuber to interview Chancellor Angela Merkel.

— With assistance by Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier

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