German broadcaster ARD says ProSieben-Discovery streaming plan "interesting"

BERLIN, June 26 (Reuters) - Public broadcaster ARD said it would consider an invitation to join a German TV streaming platform being set up by ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery Inc, although it was too early to say it would do so.

“It’s an interesting development for the market - we will examine it closely,” ARD Chairman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference in Berlin on Tuesday, after a two-day meeting of its governing body.

“But you will understand that, at this stage, I can’t say whether we will take part or not,” he added in response to a question.

ProSieben and Discovery said on Monday that they would fold their Maxdome and Eurosport Player services into their existing 7TV alliance, creating a challenger to Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

The partners extended an invitation to ARD, Germany’s second public channel ZDF, which declined to comment, and competitor RTL, which said it was open to cooperation but is also focusing on its own TV NOW streaming product.

ARD’s Wilhelm has called for broader cooperation in Europe extending beyond entertainment into fields such as culture and science, as part of an effort to defend and nurture the region’s cultural legacy.

“That doesn’t rule out a whole range of other solutions and even alliances,” he said.

ProSieben’s shares rallied by nearly 3 percent on Tuesday, as analysts gave the streaming venture a cautious welcome. UBS raised its investment rating to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’, saying risks of the strategy reset were priced into the stock.

“While we believe this is a move in the right direction for ProSieben, we do not believe it will be a game-changer in the near-term,” said analysts at Liberum who maintained their ‘hold’ rating on the stock. (Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Jan Harvey)