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Who knows GRONKH UND SARAZAR? Among fans of computer games and online videos, they are both megastars: The duo have had their own live TV show on the ProSiebenSat.1 portal MYVIDEOsince 2012. With millions of viewers! And thanks to TV expertise, new stars are also being born in the booming market of ONLINE-GAMES: Here, every player can make history.


They just want to play

Friday, 5:55 pm in a studio in Hürth, near Cologne: In the middle of the set is a large desk with two opened laptops — Gronkh and Sarazar don’t need a lot more than that when they sit here to host Germany’s most successful Web Games Show. Outside, excitement is mounting in front of PCs, for the studio crew, it’s concentration. “Attention, 30 seconds,” calls the director, “We’re about to go online.” Gronkh und Sarazar lounge casually on their computer chairs. 6 pm. The show starts!

“Hello folks — we have prepared a lot ... namely, nothing at all,” Gronkh, whose real name is Erik Range, welcomes the audience and laughs disarmingly. Valentin Rahmel, aka Sarazar, has nothing to add. No long jibber-jabber — now it’s time to play. After all, fans of the live show Let’s Play Together on MyVideo want nothing other than to watch Gronkh and Sarazar try out a game while chatting and messing about. Two buddies, the computer and video games: This concept has taken off.

A few months before, Range (35) and Rahmel (29) sat in a Cologne pizzeria at midday to talk to a team from ProSiebenSat.1 Digital about the MyVideo partnership. “We were on an intensive search for talents that were successful online,” explains ProSiebenSat.1 Digital boss Markan Karajica. “That included Gronkh and Sarazar.” However, there was no extensive discussion at this meeting, and even the pizza got cold. Because, suddenly, two excited school classes, who recognized the duo while walking by, stormed the table.

Exceeded expectations: Markan Karajica, head of ProSiebenSat.1 Digital, is pleased with the success of the MyVideo webstars.

Digitalization is creating new stars, who owe their status to millions of clicks on video platforms, intensified by social networks like Twitter and Facebook. There, Gronkh and Sarazar together have more than 500,000 fans! The other internet stars hunted out by MyVideo — where they all now delight their audiences with their own live shows — can also boast similar numbers of “likes”. Their videos are watched hundreds of thousands of times on MyVideo. “With Gronkh and Sarazar, we had more than a million views in the first month,” says Markan Karajica. “Naturally I was optimistic — but that massively exceeded my expectations.”

He was not alone. “We were completely surprised by our success,” says Valentin Rahmel, still astonished. “When Erik told me about his ‘Let’s Play’ idea, I was skeptical.” But playing as a “performance” has its own special appeal. “You can imagine it as a bit like a sports show, except that we play along,” explains Valentin Rahmel. After the breakthrough on YouTube, cooperating with MyVideo was the next logical step for him and Range. The video platform from ProSiebenSat.1 is a frontrunner for live streaming in Europe. “It is a pioneering project with a big fun factor,” confirms Rahmel. “Because ‘Let’s Play Together’ does not just call for watching, but also joining in.” The fan community is included via all social media channels. During play, viewers give tips, criticize or tease Gronkh and Sarazar if their virtual character bites the dust.

Losing is a part of playing. With regard to the cooperation between the internet stars and MyVideo, everybody wins. “Professional TV is learning from new, young online formats with a lot of interactivity and a committed fan community. Vice versa, the new internet video heroes benefit from our experience and technical equipment as a entertainment powerhouse,” explains ProSiebenSat.1 Digital Managing Director Markan Karajica. “The MyVideo success story shows how, with consistent brand management, attractive content and the right, namely your own, stars, you can establish a successful online TV station from which the whole ProSiebenSat.1 Group benefits.” US hit series like “Spartacus: Vengeance” and “Unforgettable” are now also premiered on MyVideo. It is seen more and more often: “Online first”! And by the way, this attention boost makes the subsequent broadcast on TV even more successful.

Playtime! Now it’s time to play — in front of an audience of millions: Gronkh, aka Erik Range (left) and Sarazar, aka Valentin Rahmel (right), at the MyVideo studio in Cologne.

Benefiting from the online games boom

Pioneers like Gronkh and Sarazar recognized the potential of combining video, strong stories and interaction — innovatively designed online games offer nothing else. That is why ProSiebenSat.1’s commitment to online games makes so much sense — it is, after all, the world’s fastest growing entertainment industry. When thousands of warriors with futuristic weapons fight for supremacy on the planet Auraxis in the year 2845, this is already at the level of a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead of actors, however, war is waged in “PlanetSide 2” by avatars, graphic representatives, controlled by players from all over the world. More than one million European players logged in, and that was just in the first months after release. Another example of a successful game: In “DC Universe Online”, a total of 1.5 million gamers take on the roles of superheroes.

As in the film industry, the capital expenditure is huge. “150 developers worked on ‘DC Universe Online’ for five and a half years,” says Andreas Heyden, COO of ProSiebenSat.1 Games. The budget was EUR 50 million. The investment is paying off: “Within the game, players can buy clothing, weapons and abilities for their avatars,” explains Heyden. “With real money.” An average user pays around EUR 35 a month for virtual items.

Heyden’s team, in which young pros from 16 countries work together, is always looking for new blockbuster brands. ProSiebenSat.1 Games acquires the licenses for the European market and then signs distribution and cooperation contracts, most recently in France and Turkey. “The opportunities for profit for the company are excellent,” says Heyden. “The target groups of the online community and TV overlap: 70 % of active players in Germany can be reached via ProSiebenSat.1 TV stations.” Not for nothing do Andreas Heyden and his people proclaim “We turn viewers into players!” And because more and more online gamers do not just want to play at home, ProSiebenSat.1 is also getting involved in mobile games. The new “ProSieben Games” app is already available for the iPhone and iPad.

Web TV in a new dimension, online games of blockbuster quality and gaming enjoyment for your cell phone. Digital boss Markan Karajica grins: “I think we can rightly speak of a digital entertainment powerhouse!”

Playing along is fun — and brings one friends. No wonder Gronkh (left) and Sarazar have so many fans — the market for online games is booming.


Digital & Adjacent

Digital & Adjacent

Strongest growth driver: Executive Board member Dr. Christian Wegner on the effective connection of TV and digital business.