German Broadcaster Hunts for Programmers to Beat Back Netflix

(Bloomberg) -- ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE Chief Executive Officer Max Conze is trawling for digital talent as he tries to stop Netflix Inc. from stealing the German broadcaster’s customers.

Of 50 job openings on its website, 38 are for software engineers, from JavaScript developers to video streaming experts -- the kind of people Conze needs to meet a goal to derive half of sales from digital activities within about five years.

Some investors haven’t waited to see if he succeeds. ProSieben shares have lost more than a third of their value since Conze took over in June after six years as CEO of British vacuum cleaner maker Dyson Ltd.

Investors aren’t ready to give up on Europe’s broadcasters just yet

A sweeping management reshuffle continued on Wednesday as Conze hired entertainment tech expert Nick Thexton as chief technology officer. Thexton is chief digital and product officer at satellite operator Inmarsat Plc and was previously head of technology at U.K.-based TV platform YouView TV Ltd.

An army of software engineers helped turn Netflix and Inc. into global giants, and these companies are now encroaching on ProSieben’s territory, pulling viewers and advertising dollars away from traditional TV. Conze, under pressure to find fresh revenue streams, has vowed to build a European Hulu and expand the company’s e-commerce units, possibly through M&A.

Netflix doesn’t break out subscriber numbers per country, but industry estimates for them in Germany hover around 5 million. Its German-language content includes a wildly popular series called Dark that will be renewed for season two.

Investors are eager to hear more on how he plans to kick-start growth at the company when it reports earnings Thursday.

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