3 Tips to #RecoverStronger… with Philipp Rotermund, CEO, Video Solutions AG

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Philipp Rotermund Watch4 closeup

Philipp Rotermund is CEO of Video Solutions AG, parent company of the AVOD channel Watch4 available in Germany, Austria & Switzerland , and W4Free available in the UK. With over 17 years of experience driving strategic business development, marketing and sales within the media, film, IPTV, broadcast, sport and online video industries, Philipp provides solid expertise in Intellectual Property rights, implementation of new concepts and digital business models, with a proven track record for increasing productivity and profit margins in fast-paced, dynamic environments.

Here are his 3 Tips for media businesses to #RecoverStronger over the next few months.

Q. What is your advice for the media industry to Recover Stronger from the current turbulent market?
Tip #1: Don’t Let the Covid-19 Current Carry Away All Your Progress

Over the past seven months, we have experienced challenges to our way of doing business like no other time in the history of our industry. But while Covid-19’s impact has been hard felt by media companies small and large (and my company is no exception), it has not been a time to throw up our collective hands and just roll over and die! As with any time of hardship, perseverance and ingenuity are key factors in the battle for survival and, ultimately, success.

In the case of my company, which operates two AVOD platforms — Watch4 in Germany/Switzerland/Austria and W4Free in the UK — our greatest challenge was the decline in advertiser revenue, despite the increase in viewing across all TV platforms. However, this was also a time when we discovered opportunities to secure more distribution through partners like Xumo, NetGem and Huawei Video. Our goal to expand and increase the number of households we reach was not derailed by the pandemic and, in fact, we’ll reach a milestone later this year of having our platforms on 100M devices.

So, my first tip is don’t let the dark the clouds of the past several months get you completely off track of your goals. For us, from a revenue point of view, Covid-19 did have an impact and we didn’t hit our target, but we did achieve progress on every other level that will absolutely set us up for financial success in the future.

Tip #2: It’s a good time to re-assess operations

We all saw the headlines. Media companies were responding to the economic impact of the pandemic by downsizing, cutting back or eliminating parts of their businesses altogether. Of course, these are difficult decisions and ones that every company has to make to survive.

In our case, we knew we had to adapt, but needed to do so without expending the team working on the technology to help us achieve our goals. We used this time to utilize our team to re-assess our operations and make some changes to our data and delivery systems to meet the demand of our expansion efforts and set us up for efficiencies as we continue to grow.

Rather than panic and take a budget-slashing approach, look to see where you can make adjustments and find economies of scale. Take inventory of your current operations and see how they can be improved and let your human resources use their knowledge and ingenuity to get you there.

Tip #3: Invest for the future!

It might seem counter intuitive to spend money when revenues are down, but we must remember that this is not the status quo. Life …and business…will return to some semblance of what it was before. I don’t think we are in fact looking at the “new normal”.

For our newest service, W4Free, we looked at these challenging weeks and months as an opportune time to shore up on content to keep our viewers engaged. By closing several substantial movie library deals, we added hundreds of titles to meet the increased appetite of users stuck at home.

When TV consumption spiked, we wanted to stay competitive by giving viewers more choice, not less. The result was longer viewing times. Satisfying consumers means you’ll fight off churn, increase brand loyalty and remain relevant and competitive in the market.

Q. How has this period been for you? Any positives or negatives that you would like to share?

Since I wasn’t able to travel so much, I had a lot more time with family, which was a real positive during an otherwise challenging situation.

On the other hand, I do sorely miss the social aspect of meeting with colleagues in person. There is nothing that can replace the camaraderie you create by spending time meeting and dining with the people you work and do business with. I look forward to being able to shake hands and raise a glass with my business associates again soon.


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