ERTflix: The “success story” of public television

How the pandemic turned into an opportunity to create the most successful “on demand” home entertainment platform

Last year there was no lockdown, masks, antiseptic in the role of gushing water from the Siloam swimming pool and social distancing. This year we are going through the third lockdown , we will soon be circulating with a double mask and social distancing has become the new equivalent of the former social give and take.

There was no ERTflix last year at such a time . A few days ago, specifically last weekend, the on demand platform of the Greek public television received more than 600,000 views , confirming its momentum as a new holy grail of binge watching and home entertainment. There is no doubt that 2020 was more than a good year for television platforms. At the end of January Netflix announced an increase in its subscription flock of 8.51 million users for the fourth quarter of 2020, surpassing the 6 million bar the company had set and now bringing together a total of 203.66 million subscribers worldwide. Producers, studios and directors made the need for ambition – due to the closed cinemas – and screened their films on demand networks, while the absolute dominance of television is endorsed by a total of 62 nominations – for series and films – of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu in the Golden Globes .

However, previous new entrants do not diminish or diminish the inevitable success of ERTflix., which is a child of the pandemic, was made for the most part via telework and was officially launched last July, but its dynamics – and the numbers – say it came to open another, alternative path to on demand entertainment. The BBC has iPlayer, ERT now has ERTflix.

Child of the pandemic

In fact the platform that more and more viewers are discovering – in July the monthly visitors were 2.2 million, while in December they had almost tripled, reaching 6.3 million – by pressing the (red) button on their remote control, through site or using applications for mobile phones and tablets is not as new as it seems – at least in terms of its technological part. As explained by Ms. Elli Katalagarianou , Director of Digital Media at ERT, the department responsible for the proper recording and placement of content on the digital platform, hybrid TV (see red button) started operating in 2017.”Although there was technological superiority, the public response was not commensurate. There were no media, maybe it was not communicated properly and certainly the content was not so rich “.

In simple words, public television had the know-how of a hybrid, it had a web TV, but the equation lacked a key factor: the recipient, that is, the viewer . The decision to marry the technologies and create a single aesthetically pleasing platform but also to speed up its implementation due to last year’s first lockdown was crucial to success. And it was a strategic goal for the president and CEO of ERT, who understood from the beginning the importance of a modern on demand platform and encouraged the executives of ERT’s New Media to completely redesign the hitherto unknown hybrid service of public television. ERTflix made the crisis an opportunity, says Mr. Panos Rotas , ERT’s Director of Digital Infrastructure and Applications , with enthusiasm .

“Before the pandemic the planning was to create the platform after the summer of 2020. The lockdown of March forced us to proceed not just too fast but immediately. We put pencils, keyboards and mice down and the developers with the graphic designers made the layout in the format that exists now. We adopted exactly the same for the application. We wanted a single aesthetic platform. And we borrowed ideas from great players. Bad lies, you look at what those around you are doing, you see where people are going, you can not let the viewer learn something from the beginning. Shortly before Easter 2020 we came out with a new layout. It was also called ERT hybrid and ERT web TV “.

If the key components of the success and impact of the on demand platform of public television are the user-friendly environment, the integration of web TV and hybrid and of course the pluralism of content, one can not ignore the contribution of the non-negotiable attractive , on the verge of its pun – its name – if we were to use gastronomic terms, we would be talking about umami. The name ERTflix also has its own story . “As soon as we uploaded and communicated the platform in its new form, the impact was immediate,” says Mr. Rotas.

“Then the need for a single name arose. Many ideas had fallen on the table. At that time, the president of ERT, Konstantinos Zoulas, uploaded a post on Facebook and wrote between funny and serious, that “it could be called ERTflix, but we have not yet reached the final name”. As soon as it was heard, it went viral and so it was officially adopted in June. From then on, Apple and Android mobile applications and Samsung, LG and Android TVs were created. We are now talking about a single digital platform. Do you have internet? Do you have ERTflix “, he concludes. Easy, digestible and with a dynamic slogan, ERTflix is ​​in other words what it takes to penetrate young audiences .”The platform has brought ERT closer to the youth audience. This is the important thing. Numbers show that people like it. Obviously it can be competitive on subscription platforms. Let’s not forget that it does not require a subscription and has content that no one else can find ” , adds Mrs. Katalarianou while pointing out that the daily flow of visitors is upward from all the access channels to ERTflix . According to official data, the application has recorded 43,300 downloads on iOS devices, 107,000 on Android phones, 52,000 on Android TVs, 267,000 on the Samsung TV ecosystem and 15,670 on LG TVs with WebOs software, while there is always the red button option. in the remote control.

The «Netflix depleted”

If something is written frequently between serious and funny -Who disagrees that the greatest out several times with wrapping banter? – to social networks for public television platform is that in fact it is the « Netflix the poor .” This is because it is provided free of charge and does not require a subscription, apart from the well-known and for some controversial reciprocal fee of ERT. Does the label bother the people who set up ERTflix , who have worked so hard for the past 11 months to further develop it?

The Constantine Bourounis, head of ERT’s Youth and Internet Program, is not at all intimidated by the nickname that many attribute to the platform. Equally, he says, the trend even in on-demand subscription networks is now to offer much of their content for free, until they persuade the potential subscriber to pay their dues. If technology and know-how are the body of ERTflix, Mr. Bourounis has undertaken to infuse his life, that is, its content (see movies, series, sports broadcasts, documentaries, concerts, ERT archival material). In other words, he is the person who chooses what we will watch and when – yes, he sounds almost omnipotent .

“ERTflix content is a puzzle. We want to have options from the ERT program, but also content that is shown only on demand. The issue is to achieve the right equation, to find the ideal proportion of commonly accepted programs that will give as large an audience as possible a reason to join ERTflix but also to return. “, explains. He also says that curating the content is probably the only way for the viewer to escape the scourge of netflixing, that is, to spend his time looking for what he will see, navigating between series and movies, and finally do not watch anything. That is why in the next phase the platform will offer 30 different categories, an idea of ​​which we have already got with “Solve the Mystery” or “ERTflix in the village”, while very soon original productions will be hosted, such as a documentary for pop culture in Greece, but also an alternative music show, in which musicians will do what they know best, namely concerts. As for the must-sees of the responsible youth program? The series “Babylon Berlin” and “The Loudest Voice” – extremely topical dueGreek #metoo -, the almost classic “The Office” and of course the Live Lounge of Florence & The Machine.

The bet for ERTflix , which was even honored at the Digital Media Awards with the award for its content and user interface, is to surpass the bar it set . “The response has created needs,” says Mr Rotas.”We are currently working on a major update that will be available shortly before Easter. The viewer will be able to create profiles, make lists, have favorite movies or series, will be able to continue something from where he left off, will have suggestions according to what he has already watched. The user interface will change a bit, not dramatically, but definitely for the better. We want to satisfy even the most demanding viewer. We also work on the issues of film and series analysis. Let’s solve this issue with the adaptive bitrate. The free content is nice, but now we are going to focus on the quality of the service. We want to keep those we have and bring others. ”

The Director of Infrastructure and Applications of ERT He also says that ERTflix Kosmos is already being created, an application cut and sewn to the needs of the Greeks of the Diaspora. As for the obvious question? In other words, how did ERT manage to catch up with the competition of private television and open the way for on demand entertainment? For Mr. Rotas the answer is the people :We are people who do not like to be baptized by civil servants. We are children who do not “sit well”. We search, we eat and we really like the new, the new and the innovative. It is important when you start doing something to feel that your company believes in you. We saw that the new management of ERT wanted it very much, embraced it and supported it. ERT is a part of the giant called Public and we want to shake it and wake it up “.

The Top 10 of ERTflix

I know what you saw from September to February

1 . Greet my plane tree
2 . Our best years
3 . The Adventures of Hercule Poirot
4 . Mom’s cake
5 . Borgen
6 . Roland Garros
(Semifinal St. Tsitsipas – N. Djokovic)
7 . Project Blue Book
8 . Music box
9 . Top of the lake
10 . Coco Chanel