3. 4. 2023
Within a year and a quarter, Prima TV developed its own video library, prima+. Its editorial system will gradually be used by all TV web projects. Support for LG televisions and catalogue expansion are planned.

For less than two months, the redesigned video library of the Prima Group has been in operation and has been given the name prima+. Fifteen months have passed from idea to implementation. The current VOD service is the third generation of the Prima Group's video portal. The first service was called Prima Play, then came iPrima, which was replaced by prima+ on 8 February this year.

"Preparatory work began at the end of 2021 and the current form was clear sometime in early 2022," says Josef Beneš, director of VOD services at Prima. "It's been a ride. We started planning the solution architecture at a time when we didn't have the final research results, branding or colour scheme. We were working on two tracks in parallel," says Hung Nguyen, Prima Group's head of development.


It was the research that was important to identify the open space in the market where prima+ could fit in.

"We did three or four big market researches. All the services like Netflix, Disney+ or HBO Max hit one-third of the audience. But the Czech Republic is specific in Europe because of the strength of Czech content and the availability of free-to-air stations. From our research, we have identified a segment where we have planted prima+. One service with three levels of access, and we were the first to launch a hybrid model with advertising in the Czech Republic," notes Josef Beneš.

Prima+ wants to meet users who are looking for new local content, viewers interested in TV show previews and those who want to watch content without ads.

In addition to research, Prima has gained insights directly from users, who visit the video portal around half a million times a month. The online audience is slightly younger than the TV audience: while the traditional broadcaster targets the 15 to 69 age group, Prima+ targets viewers aged 15 to 54.

This is also reflected in the filming of original productions under the prima+ Originals brand. The streaming service has produced projects such as Bodyguardi or the currently filming Banáni, which are series for a much younger audience than those primarily addressed by the TV formats.

"We knew from the beginning that we didn't want a pure SVOD service (subscription video library). On that basis, we started to address the commercial concept of what it could look like, what the advertising revenue and non-advertising revenue targets were. Even the big global services are now branching out into hybrid subscription models, combining payment from the users with ad revenue. This is the way we see the future," recalls Josef Beneš. Cheaper tariffs with advertising are offered by Netflix, HBO or Disney+.

World standards for the Czech environment

Prima's video portal has not only undergone a technological evolution, but also a redesign. "We were one of the few services to do only a clean upgrade of systems. For example, HBO gave away Go and made HBO Max. But we tried to keep the users we already had in the system," Hung Nguyen continues.

"But in order to have a paid service with premium content, we had to customize the product. For example, the original version had bright colors. But that doesn't motivate users to use it on the big screen. So we wanted to get closer to the world's services, to have themed sections with shows, user profiles, recommendation by algorithms, in short, everything that is standard in the world," Hung Nguyen said.

According to Nguyen, users are now in the discovery phase and are looking at what the service offers. It looks like some titles have managed to get users to watch all episodes at once.

In the first weeks after the launch of prima+, the use of the web version of the service on laptops is still predominant. However, there is an increasing number of users of apps for smart TVs, which Prima did not have before. And with that, viewing habits are slowly changing. "iPrima was a classic catch-up service. The user typically watched an episode of a series on the same day it was running on TV. But in the prima+ app, video consumption increases on Fridays and weekends, so we are getting closer to the habits of regular VOD services," Hung Nguyen notes.

Users can use prima+ on the web, on HbbTV, on mobiles and tablets, or on apps for Android TV and Samsung TVs. An app for LG TVs is also currently approved.

When you say video…

The original video portal was programmed in Drupal. The new service is a proprietary solution tailored to the needs of the Prima Group. And the goal is that the same editorial system will serve all content projects under the Prima umbrella. "We are now addressing the core issue of how to reconcile the needs of CNN Prima News editors, web magazines and Prima+," Hung Nguyen hints.

Prima+'s catalogue contains about 2,000 titles, but like its competitors, it faces the problem that the big global studios keep content on their own platforms and are reluctant to provide internet streaming rights. "But fortunately, there are still plenty of independent productions and distributors, both Czech and foreign, to choose from. So it's hard work, you have to pick and choose so that it's not completely niche content, but when you put the pieces together, it works," says Josef Beneš.

Prima has been buying UK productions, for example from the BBC or ITV, but also soap operas from Turkey. "Multinational streaming services treat buying content like a carpet raid. Regions such as the Czech Republic are not important to them, they only look for local content to the extent that it fills quotas within their content library, but that's the end of it for them. For us it is a competitive advantage, we can work with what is close to the Czech audience," says Josef Beneš.

And it has also concluded licensing agreements with the public broadcaster Czech Television, which is looking for additional sources of revenue. "Until now, Czech Television has been reluctant to market its content. But now the door has opened. We are interested in its content, local production is important to us," he adds.

Acquisition through vouchers

Like other VOD services, prima+ will offer vouchers in the retail network. Customers buy a voucher with a unique code and activate access for a selected period corresponding to the value of the voucher.

"One of the main things we will now address is the acquisition of new users outside the online environment. So we should have partner sales, affiliate programs and offline sales channels. Paying for subscriptions with cash at the checkout is still a relevant method. We will definitely go this way," explains Josef Beneš.

"We want to move beyond 100,000 paying users within twelve months," says Beneš. "But we don't have a dream number. It is more important for us to work with the user and to develop service sustainably. We don't put a knife to viewers' throats saying they won't see anything without paying," concludes the head of VOD services at Prima.

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