TVMAS INTERVIEW with Ralf Bartoleit, CEO of bTV Media Group in Bulgaria

Ralf Bartoleit, CEO of bTV Media Group

In Bulgaria, television is the most important media and reaches more than 95% of the population.

Ralf Bartoleit is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of bTV says in this interview with Amanda Ospina Director of TVMAS, that streaming platforms are segmented by genre and offer a wide range of first-run global titles, but at the same time consumers increasingly complain of ‘getting lost’ in the ocean of titles.’

‘Popular streaming platforms have their place in the content market, but they are growing more slowly in Bulgaria than in other CEE markets.’

‘We offer a variety of genres such as romance, drama and crime; featured title from Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom and France.’

He have extensive international experience as a journalist and media expert established giants suchs as ProSieben Sat.l Media SE, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutsche Presse Agentur.

What is the competition between television channels versus streaming platforms in Eastern Europe and what is the approximate market value?

Platform competition is nothing new in a highly competitive business like ours. Increased online consumption of goods and services is a major catalyst for increased demand for thematic content, not only in traditional media but also on all streaming platforms. The latter have become even more accesible to tonsumers and to some extents have changed viewing habits. At the same time, investing in content requires significant resources for production, copyright, marketing, etc., but this also carries certain risks that platforms do not always take into account.

Streaming platforms are clearly genre-segmented, offering a wide range of first-run global titiles, but at the shame time consumers are increasingly complaining of ‘getting lost’ in the ocean of titles.

Can you assure that traditional television still brings the family togheter?

Yes. Television offers quick and easy access to right content and still manages to get the whole family in front of the screen, i.e. family waching. In Bulgaria, I can confidently say that TV is the most important medium for the country, reaching over 95% of the population. And by the way: Total TV is in Bulgaria in Prime Time still higher than in 2019!

Popular streaming platforms have their place in the content market, but they are growing more slowly in Bulgaria than in other CEE markets. This is partly due to the price-sensitive market (number of active subscriptios per househoold), but also to language limitations and insufficient localization of content.

Latin America telenovelas brought not only success to the channels but also millions of dollars. What is the reality today, what type of telenovelas are you buying and how much is the investment in purchasing these product on bTV in Bulgaria?

The entertainment industry has been around for decades, but never has it been so closely watched, evaluated, and challenged. And I say that with a smile because it can only motivate and encourage us to move fordward – as a business and as an industry. Today’s consumers are not only more informed than ever before, but they also have a range of options and choices that they didn’t have before. Viewers are looking for variety and quality formats anywhere, anytime.

That is why bTV, as a leading media group in Bulgaria, offers a wide range of titles in its programming. Recently, we completely revamped one of our thematic channels: bTV Story, focusing on premiere titles of series and telenovelas from around the world. With this strategic move the new bTV Story is in Prime Time now very often the No.4 channel in the market! A fantastic success of our teamwork.

We have a variety of genres such as romance, drama and crime – top title from Turkey, Brazil, Mexicom South Korea, the UK and France that we offer to our viewers. The content is also available on VOYO (SVOD), making it accessible to people want to watch online and on demand.

Finally, as an expert in the Gambling industry. Advertising is the fuel of the media, events, and spectatle. What has been the growth in percentage in the las two years and how much is the market value in Eastern Europe?

The rise of gambling avertising is evident to all. You may remember that in 1995 the main logos on football team shirts were telecoms brands, followed by car brands, clothing and food. In 2010, big banks and insurance companies were among the biggest sponsors of sports clubs. Now it’s no secret that the main logos on player’s shirts are those of betting firms. It is difficult for me to give statistics because the market is very dynamic. We see countries like Italy, where the complete ban on gambling advertising has led to major chages in advertising budgets and, as a side effect, investment has shifted to alternative channels such as social media. In Germany there is a clear regulation and gambling advertising on TV is allowed betweeen 23:00 and 6:00.

Bulgaria during the last years was also a market with impressive growth in betting advertising. So, it was a big surprise that the parliament only a week ago decided about a total ban on adveritsing bor the betting industry in TV, Digital and Radio. In My eyes and based on what we are learning fromt other markets, this is a very problematic decision because it will drive people to the black market.

Redacción TVMAS

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