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Contingency

If the TV show glitches ...

Big events like the football World Cup, awards shows, or continent-wide song competitions are TV spectaculars sans compare. If there would be a disturbance to the live television transmission, media mockery and financial losses would be inevitable.

21.05.2015

Recent TV glitches

In early February, a poweroutage in parts of Berlin delayed the transmission of a live talk show with star anchorman Günther Jauch. Instead of the previously announced live expert debate on the Greece crisis, television viewers were met with an older recording. It took about 20 minutes to rectify the disturbance and put the live transmission back on air. The next larger glitch in German television occurred just three weeks later. Thousands of film fans had set their alarm clocks for the early morning, so they could get up and watch the live broadcast of the 2015 Academy Awards from Los Angeles. Instead, after the gala opening, these viewers were faced with a frozen image with the word "Disturbance" and missed the first award. This was due to an error in the satellite transmission.

TV-viewers express frustration via social media

The channel –a private broadcasting company financed by advertising – reacted quickly and apologised for the malfunction that same night on Twitter. The disappointed viewers were quicker though and had already expressed their frustration on Twitter and other social media platforms.

How did TV transmission risks develop?

The so-called  “firestorm” in social media alone is already enough of an annoyance for production companies and TV channels. But it is often also joined by financial losses – for instance because contracts with advertising clients could not be upheld. Special contingency insurance for media broadcast disturbances, which originated in the 1970s, offers protection against these financial risks. Back then, live transmissions via TV satellites were still events that filled entire concert halls. The technology required to receive the satellite pictures and broadcast them publicly had only just been developed, and was prone to bugs. This represented a big risk for the event organisers, as they were regularly forced to return disappointed patrons' admission fees if there was a breakdown.

Pay-per-view

Technological advances enabled large TV channels to bring live video broadcasts  directly into people's living rooms. Today the development has taken another step forward in the form of pay-per-view: A growing number of customers are deciding what they want to watch and when they want to watch it, and they are willing to pay for that individualised service. This process of evolution is also reflected in the range of TV contingency insurance policies available.

Three different forms of basic covers:

Contingency insurance for closed TV broadcast events This basic form of TV contingency insurance covers the risk of an event organiser that wishes to broadcast a TV event to a live audience  against payment of an admission fee. If the broadcast cannot take place for technical reasons, the insurance company bears the financial loss of having to return the admission fees.The policy generally comes into play both in the event of problems with the satellite connection, power outages and defects in the receiver or projection technology.

TV transmission interruption insurance This kind of cover is aimed predominantly at TV stations that are responsible for the broadcast. Because, if there is a defect, they bear the risk of losing some or all of the fees they would earn in connection with the broadcast. Providers can cover their risks with the corresponding policy.

Pay–per-view cover The demand for pay-per-view cover has been on the rise for years. The reason: Private TV stations are increasingly offering their customers pay TV options. Viewers pay a predetermined fee and can then watch films or sporting events on offer. If this service fails because of a lost satellite connection, for example, customers can demand a fee reimbursement. The pay-per-view policy protects providers against this risk.

Our insurance solutions

Major broadcast mishaps are relatively rare today, thanks to technical advances – even if two such breakdowns did occur in Germany in February alone. So, with the exception of pay-per-view cover, the demand for independent TV contingency insurance has fallen. Event contingency insurance is, however, more important than ever as a supplementary policy for large scale happenings such as concert tours or international sporting events like the football World Cup – because in these cases, the amount of money in question is enormous.

Just imagine the millions of claims that advertisers and sponsors would have made if last year's finale of the World Cup between Argentina and Germany had taken place, but nobody had been able to watch it on TV.

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