Red Bull Pulls Plug on Austrian Channel Servus TV

Red Bull unexpectedly pulled the plug on its Servus TV Austrian channel on Tuesday, saying it was no longer economically feasible to sustain the broadcaster.

Servus TV launched in 2009 as part of the group’s Red Bull Media House division, which also comprises Red Bull’s print, film, online and games units.

Despite pumping annual sums in the “three-digit million” range for the past seven years, Servus TV said in a statement that in view of the current market situation and competition, a positive development could no longer be expected.

It added: “The changes in the global media market support our decision because digital offering are supplanting classic linear channels.”

Red Bull topper Dietrich Mateschitz also confirmed that apparent plans by some employees to establish a works council at the channel contributed to the decision to shutter the broadcaster.

“That this process was not exactly conducive when deciding on the current situation is evident,” Mateschitz told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten. He added that a labor union-backed works council would have “permanently damaged” the broadcaster’s independence.

In response, more than 200 employees signed an open letter to Mateschitz opposing the creation of a works council, apparently to no avail.

Servus TV said it would remain on air until further notice, although press reports indicate it could end its operations by the end of June.

With its mix of high-octane sporting events, nature programming, music shows and international TV series and movies, Servus TV’s market share has ranged between 1% and 2% since its launch. Last year it achieved a 1.7% share among all viewers 12 and older, up from 1.5% in 2014. The channel was also widely available on cable and other services in Germany.

In addition to Red Bull-produced sporting events and nature and factual programming from Red Bull subsidiary Terra Mater, Servus TV served as a niche platform for international scripted fare, such as Aussie series “McLeod’s Daughters” and Italian detective drama “Inspector Montalbano” as well as recently aired films like Park Hoon-jung’s Korean crime thriller “New World” and Danis Tanovic’s war drama “Triage.”

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