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Music streamers increasingly eye expansion into niche content

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Music streamers increasingly eye expansion into niche content

ThatParis-basedmusic streamingplatform Deezer isamong the headlining keynotes at the annual TV Connect conference in ,is telling of the growing ubiquity of the business of providing content.

Asengagement habits change, music streaming platforms and other media companieshave adopted multi-channel strategies. But Deezer, and recently, through its VICELANDTV platform, areincreasingly diversifying the type of content that they offer.

Speaking at TV Connect, Christian Harris, Deezer's managingdirector for the UK & Ireland,assured delegates that his company is on the hunt for other areas of audiocontent in order to "broaden" its portfolio.

Aside frombeing home to one of the world's largest music streaming catalogues of morethan 35 million tracks and with over 6 million subscribers, Deezer is more andmore targeting smaller, niche areas of streaming audio, on the fringes of musicstreaming rival platforms like SpotifyLtd, Pandoraand Apple Inc.'sApple Music.

Havingbuilt a portfolio of news, talk and entertainment content, which itgained through its agreed acquisitionof news and talk radio service Stitcher in October 2014, Deezer expandedinto premium sports podcasts and live match commentary last year.

Deezer strucka deal with TalkSport in the UK to offer Premier League and FA Cup matches, andanother with Sport1.fm inGermany to provide match commentary from the Bundesliga on its service inGermany.Harris added it later expanded its live football content to 14 additionalEuropean countries including the Netherlands,Norway,Spainand Italy.

Deezer's chief international officer, Gerrit Schumann, toldSNL Kagan that going "aboveand beyond music" would be core to Deezer's future growth prospectsand that this could drive further consolidation in a bid to secure further content niches.

SNL Image

However, Schumann did stress that Deezer would assesspotential acquisitions on an opportunistic basis, and focus on organic growth,particularly through partnerships. For instance, Deezer announceda partnershipin November of last year with U.K. mobile network Three, which gives Three customersaccess to Deezer Premium+ for six months.

The musicstreamer's attempts to diversify into niche content segments is hardlysurprising given the need for a strong comeback after its failed IPO attemptand an industrywide rethink of streaming models due to concerns over and thedistribution of royalties.

Adding tothat, the market remains highly volatile, an example being the surgein downloads for rival service Tidalafter landing exclusive rights to artist Beyonce's latest album, "Lemonade,"on April 23. Immediately following the release, Tidal reportedly moved up tobecome the most-downloaded free iOS app in the U.S., above both Pandora andSpotify.

Deezer alsofaces indirect competition from Alphabet'sGoogle Inc.-ownedYouTube, which launched YouTube Redlast year; a subscription, ad-free version of the video site that lets usersdownload videos for $9.99 a month.

"YouTubeis a huge challenge to the industry and for Deezer specifically, because musicis being consumed there in the context of no revenues going to the artist, therecord industry or otherwise," Harris told the crowd.

Theperceived new threat from YouTube Red is likely to be behind Spotify's roll outof a video channel with content from partners including ESPN, Comedy Central,MTV, the BBC and VICENews in January of this year, making Spotify the first major music streamingservice to integrate a large amount of third-party videos, other than YouTubeRed.

Harris,however, stressed that it has no intention of diversifying into short-form orthird-party video content. He revealed that it was something the company haddiscussed on "numerous occasions" but had ultimately decided against.

"Wehave made a very clear decision that that is not a route we are going to godown," Harris said.

In fact, YouTube Red and other music streaming platforms areafter entirely different audiences.

"Peoplethat listen to music via YouTube are not people that would ever pay," Harrisinsisted, adding "that isa part of the market we might struggle to reach from a premium perspective."