FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European broadcaster RTL Group <RRTL.DE> and Britain's ITV <ITV.L> said on Thursday they had signed an agreement to deepen their partnership in international advertising sales, seeking to meet the challenge from global tech giants together.
Under the agreement RTL AdConnect, which already represents more than 400 broadcasters and digital media partners, will represent ITV outside Britain. ITV's managing director, commercial, Kelly Williams has joined the RTL AdConnect board.
The advertising tie-up comes amid intensifying speculation that European broadcasters may be forced to merge by the expansion of streaming platforms like Netflix <NFLX.O> and Amazon <AMZN.O>.
Comcast's <CCZ.N> blockbuster takeover of British pay-TV company Sky <SKYB.L> has piled on the pressure although industry bosses and analysts doubt that cross-border mergers can generate the kind of synergies seen in English-speaking media.
"Faced with ever increasing competition from global tech giants, we are actively exploring deeper and new partnerships with other media companies across Europe," Bert Habets, CEO of RTL Group, said in a statement.
Habets said his goal was to create the leading monetisation platform for video by combining the reach of companies represented by RTL AdConnect - which includes its own portfolio, ITV, RAI in Italy and Medialaan in Belgium - with its advertising technology company SpotX.
"This platform will be open for all broadcasters and publishers seeking an innovative, customer-friendly
alternative to the global tech giants," said Habets.
European broadcasters have been slow to launch streaming, although RTL says that its own platforms are growing quickly in markets where it launched early such as the Netherlands and Germany.
German competitor ProSiebenSat 1 Media <PSMGn.DE> is, meanwhile, developing its 7TV streaming alliance with Discovery Inc <DISCA.O> and hopes to attract fresh partners to the venture.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)