Fünf Fragen an Tatu Lehmuskallio (MTV3)

Tatu Lehmuskallio ist der Sportchef des finnischen Fernsehsenders MTV3. Das Interessante an diesem Sender ist, dass MTV3 vor kurzem damit begonnen hat die Formel 1 nicht nur im Free- und Pay-TV zu zeigen, sondern das Programm auch direkt ins Internet und auf Handys überträgt (beschränkt auf Finnland). MTV3 ist der größte (kommerzielle) Fernsehsender des Landes, hat ein Pay-TV Angebot und betreibt dazu noch die größte Internetseite Finnlands.

Mein absoluter Lieblingssatz in diesem Interview: It’s not your head which is on the table – it’s mine.

Fehler im Englischen sind auf eine fehlerhafte Transkription meinerseits zurückzuführen.

Could you give a quick introduction of yourself and your company?

My name is Tatu Lehmuskallio. I’m the head of sports operations at MTV Media which actually carries the largest television network in Finland having a market share of 31%. It’s like RTL but two times bigger in our marketplace. And then we have the largest Pay-TV operation and we have also the largest Internet website in Finland.

What drivers of change have you identified for your business? Are there different consumer habits that you react upon or are you just experimenting with your new platforms?

Traditional commercial television – advertising funded television – will be a big factor ten, fifteen years now on. Definitely it will stay big. But not as big as it used to be and that’s why we have been experimenting and we’ve been starting different approaches. We started our own Pay-TV operation after two years of different kinds of trails now this November and it was build around the Formular 1 package and it sold 250 000 subscribers in four months which is out of five million people. It’s huge.

So definitely all those new platforms and distribution methods are experiments but they are also real business. But how big a business that we will see and of course as always when you come from a really big mass market to smaller audiences or smaller target groups or a niche it’s always hard to adjust yourself to serve just 10 000 people when in a different segment you have one million customers. But form a broadcaster point of view it’s a challenge. We have to be more flexible. We still have to keep the big masses but we have to be able also to serve smaller audiences and we have good content. I don’t think that we have to go that much to user generated content – let the others take care of that. But we can create content that is interesting to big masses and also smaller audiences and now we can also produce it more cost effectively because when we take care of the big business then we have opportunities to also take care of the smaller business.

How important is control of distribution to your business? Do you limit access to your web streaming offerings or do you let your content float on the Internet?

First of all it’s important that we control the traffic if it’s billable, if it’s invoiced for us it’s much important that we are the owner of the customer and not the telecom operator or Pay-TV operator. Then you get the revenue all by yourself.

But then concerning the limitation of the content itself it’s not always our decision. It’s the rights holder’s decision if we carry on in big games or if we carry James Bond movies or Formular 1 racing we have to take care of the rights if it’s possible to be floating around or not and we have both. When we are in charge we always regard free access as one of the best marketing tools for the restricted content and as a big media company we are very aggressive and very active in using our capability of reaching people in marketing our products. We couldn’t be that successful for example in this Formular 1 story if we didn’t have the biggest commercial TV network in our use.

You talked about free access on the consumer side. What about free access on the producer side? Do you open up your web business for Indy producers or even user-generated content?

We are experimenting and we are doing both. But one thing when you are running a big business in your market place and you are a mass media it’s always important to be able to distinguish what is controlled content and what is not. If we open everything and it’s under our umbrella it means that we are also legally responsible what’s there. If you want to put there something that’s politically incorrect and we don’t correct that we don’t control it, it’s not your head which is on the table – it’s mine.

While we are already getting the mass audiences with our conservative ways of doing business then probably we are not that much in need for the community. But it’s not a thing that we overlook. If that’s something that we really think with that we can better keep our customers attached to our services then it’s definitely something that we have to consider.

Is there a threat to your mass audiences from many niche casting offerings?

The problem is that we only have 24 hours a day. So what it means is that you just have to have the interesting content. Many times people put big mass media against niche channels and I don’t see that at all. People are always interested in big events let they be wars or movies or Olympic Games or football matches or political demonstrations whatever they are and then you just have to deliver the goods. If you don’t have good content then people go somewhere else.

As you know probably you watch RTL or ARD or something like that for different thing and then you go to your computer and do something that is much smaller. If you use four hours a day among different media: radio, PC, websites, television, mobile, so for and so for. You personally distribute your time to those interests that really interest you and it’s our job to keep track of what’s in people’s mind.

For example live sport is one of the big things that will always stay there. I mean no niche channel can surpass the world cup final Germany playing France. But when there isn’t football then a niche channel can take its place and we already know the younger generation uses media completely differently than my generation used to do it or the generation ten years ago. We just have to be aware of that.

And one thing that proofs the point is that when we started in the Internet business in Finish marketplace we were just like anybody else. But now we are the biggest because we have the best content and we have the best promotion. I don’t say that we have all the content if you are collecting butterflies we definitely don’t have a very good butterfly site for you. But for the masses and things that the masses are mostly interested in we do. They are interested in news, personal life and Formular 1. They are interested in getting music reviews whatever it is.

And one thing we do a lot is studying. We do a lot of studies and do a lot of surveys. We do not just crank out some program and think the people are interested. We really have to know if they are really interested. And if you charge for the service let it be pay television or web clips or something like that then you can really see if it’s successful. If they don’t buy your product it’s a failure, if they do then you are doing a good thing.

Thank You!

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