Samsung brings Cologne start-up on its smart TVs

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CologneIn order to be able to show visitors how high-resolution his streams of German football pitches and halls should come into the living room in the future, Peter Lauterbach has left a special television set hanging on the wall of his Cologne conference room. Hockey games, volleyball games and football matches are now flickering across the 80-inch flatscreen. Everything in HD and smooth.

Sporttotal.tv is the name of the streaming portal that has already installed around 500 fully automated camera systems in the Republic – and hundreds of amateur games are transmitted to the network week after week. Sports fans could watch the browser or mobile app.

From this summer, the streams will also be available directly on the TV. At least if it comes from Samsung. As Handelsblatt has learned in advance, the German subsidiary of the Korean IT giant is entering into a long-term partnership with Sporttotal. In Sportworld, an app for Samsung's smart TVs launched more than a year ago, customers can directly access paid streaming offers from Sky, Dazn and Eurosport.

At the start of the 2019/2020 season, the contents of Sporttotal are also available there – free of charge, but equivalent to the sports giants. "Sporttotal.tv is a highly interesting addition to the Sportworld," said Mike Henkelmann, marketing director for the television sector at Samsung Germany. In the future, as a market leader, they want to keep working to offer the widest range of sports content on Smart TV.

Sporttotal will massively increase its range with this step. "This is the accolade for us," says Peter Lauterbach. The 42-year-old was formerly a journalist, the sky precursor premiere he reported from the Formula 1 pit lane, later commented on the race. In 2003, he founded a marketing consultancy in Munich, which was taken over in 2011 by the Cologne-based Wige Medien AG. Lauterbach, at that time 34, became the managing partner, two years later company boss.

Peter Lauterbach

"This is the accolade for us."

(Photo: Press photo)

Since the late 1970s Wige was a classic service provider for television productions, equipped VIP boxes with media technology, went on with sports cars to sporting events, pre-recorded video walls. But the margins in the business were getting smaller. Lauterbach split parts and turned the business fully on digitization. Since 2017, the company has therefore also been called Sporttotal – just like the promising subsidiary Sporttotal.tv.

The parent company has shrunk in recent years healthy, 320 times were. Today there are still 180, and rising again. Nevertheless, the AG still writes losses. In 2018, it was eight million euros – with sales of 37.6 million.

Also, the streaming daughter wrote in 2018 red numbers, four million euros were. In 2019 they will land again with a similar result, just everything is being invested in the platform – to date, it was already 15 million euros. By 2020, according to Lauterbach's plan, Sporttotal.tv should become profitable.

A team of 30 people is sitting in Cologne today, plus ten developers in Berlin and many freelancers. In the beginning, the technology came completely from Israel, meanwhile they brought the team of Viacom Europe into the house. The first game that they streamed live was in the summer of 2016, a friendly match between FC Bayern Munich and the former Oberliga SV Lippstadt.

Today Sporttotal shows football up to the Regionalliga, the fourth highest division. Football is also on display, hockey, ice hockey, basketball. The clubs would have little staff and money to professionalize themselves medially, says Lauterbach. "We bring the technologies of the big sport into under-represented leagues."

In volleyball, the company even transfers the men's and women's league. For this purpose, Lauterbach has had its own control room built into its headquarters, as is known from sports live broadcasts: editing suites, mixing consoles, a workstation for slow-mo, many screens. The special feature: from here, up to five cameras can also be remotely controlled by joystick at the same time. They are firmly mounted in the volleyball halls – and are steered from Cologne. A difference to the cameraman on site is not noticeable.

In the summer, so at the time from which the sports streams are also seen on the smart TVs, a new version of the platform should come on the market. It then provides capacity for 100 million users at the same time. Still, these are absurdly high numbers.

At a top match in the football regional league, currently close to 12,000 people, in a volleyball Bundesliga match, there are up to 15,000 spectators. But the crowd does it. On a normal weekend ever run around the 300 live games on the server.

With the new platform, another source of revenue is starting: So far, the clubs pay only a low three-digit amount per year for the provision of the camera. From summer, a portal will be added, where local companies can advertise. Bakeries, butchers or the local savings bank can sponsor the association. One half of the revenue goes to the clubs, the other to Sporttotal. A similar concept also drives the competitor Soccer Watch from Essen, who has so far focused on football broadcasts.

In the long term, Lauterbach also wants to monetize the videos themselves. "Paying for streaming is learned thanks to Netflix and Co.," he says. It was still too early in the German amateur sector. "But especially abroad, we are already thinking about day or season passes."

According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 31 percent of Germans used a streaming service at least once a week last year, twelve percent of them even daily. And there is also the willingness to spend money on streaming: according to a survey by Next Media, 36 percent of Germans are prepared to pay between five and 15 euros a month for streaming services.

From the beginning Lauterbach had strong partners: Telekom, Allianz, Deutsche Post, the "Bild" newspaper and local media houses. With 19 out of 21 national football associations, long-term contracts are in place as they hold the most rights to the games. There are also contracts with 530 clubs.

The German Football Association (DFB) also cooperated early with Sporttotal. However, this was not only beneficial for the young company: Lauterbach and the DFB General Secretary Friedrich Curtius know each other from school, have been friends ever since. Some media accused them of kungling last year.

Lauterbach has personally been hit hard, and the company has also weakened it: the stock crashed temporarily to 80 cents. "It was a feeling of powerlessness, some investors have lost confidence in us," recalls Lauterbach. The decision-making process of the DFB in consultation with all state associations at that time had been "completely fair and transparent". In the meantime, all doubts have been removed from the world.

Sporttotal's long-term plan is the global attack. Through a fund in Luxembourg, the company wants to start only in other European countries, later even beyond. In the first five years, the fund is to collect up to 250 million euros in various tranches.

On top of that, another start-up should market digital advertising boards in the future, which can be arbitrarily faded – depending on the audience and country. "Little by little, we want to become an incubator for digital business segments in the sports segment," emphasizes Lauterbach. He dreams of becoming the netflix of the sport. The new deal with Samsung – he's just a start.

(t) SportsTotal (t) Sporttotal.tv (t) Streaming (t) Netflix (t) Flatscreen (t) TV (t) Soccerwatch (t) Peter Lauterbach (t) Media (t) DFB (t ) Sky Germany (t) Eurosport (t) Samsung Electronics (t) Dazn (t) Deutsche Post (t) Bayern Munich (t) Viacom Inc (t) Peter Lauterbach

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