ZDF and ARD start open source initiative for shared streaming network

7th May 2024

One technical platform for everyone – efficient, oriented to the common good and transparent

ZDF building with banners.
ZDF building. Credit: ZDF.

This press release was originally published on ZDF and is republished with permission.

Public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are repositioning themselves as streaming providers on the German market with a major open source initiative and the establishment of a joint subsidiary for the operation of their media libraries. Central components of their streaming services will be developed and used jointly in future. In addition, important components will be published as open source and thus made available to other service providers. This applies, for example, to the player, the recommendation system and the design system. This means that cultural institutions, for example, but also domestic and foreign platform providers can benefit from the expertise and technology of the two public service providers.

Read more: ARD and ZDF launch a joint streaming network

ZDF Director General Dr Norbert Himmler: “With one of the largest open source initiatives in Germany, we are making premium technology available to everyone. We are also increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the development and operation of the media libraries. To this end, we are cooperating closely with ARD and taking a major step in our transparency offensive.”

ARD Chairman Kai Gniffke: “We are pooling our strengths to the maximum and are jointly creating an offering that combines quality and diversity in journalism with public service values. In this way, we are jointly positioning ourselves against the commercial big tech players as a value-based, transparent streaming provider committed to German society.”

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Comprehensive management and joint subsidiary

ARD and ZDF are setting up a joint office for the open source project (Streaming OS). This office will manage the tasks and resources of both organisations and represent the project externally, for example to potential partners. It will be run by ZDF.

A joint commercial subsidiary is to be founded for technical operations. The IP distribution of the streaming services and administrative tasks for both services can then be handled there. ARD will be in charge of this unit.

“We are pooling our strengths to the maximum and are jointly creating an offering that combines quality and diversity in journalism with public service values.” – Kai Gniffke, ARD Chairman

The exact structure of the two institutions will be worked out in the coming months. A legal basis is required for a joint company. The aim is to implement this project in the first quarter of 2025. There will also be closer cooperation between ARD and ZDF on the topics of ‘login’ and the mutual use of user and usage data.

Streaming network becomes more valuable for society and users

ZDF and ARD are working closely together on the project to create a user- friendly offering at the highest technical level. In contrast to commercial platforms, there is a recommendation system for registered users that is based on transparent public service algorithms as well as careful and restrained handling of data. In conjunction with intelligent dialogue solutions, new ways of participation are also opened up. ZDF and ARD see themselves as enablers for the market and society. Thanks to this open source initiative, cultural institutions, but also smaller commercial players, have the opportunity to build or further develop their own platforms more easily than before.