The new way of watching tv

 The reinvention of television: 

 the viewer is always right

Watching TV is not what it was five years ago. In a short space of time, we have evolved from ‘the box on the wall’ to a diverse landscape of devices and streaming options. The creators take us behind the scenes of the entertainment business in Flanders, where one fact still holds true: the show must go on.

According to Dirk Lodewyckx, General Director of TV, Streaming & Radio, there are three things we need to know about the new way of watching television:



“In the past five years, an abrupt switch has taken place from live to catch-up to streaming. Viewers of all ages have taught us that they want all three, anytime, anywhere. They want live TV when it’s relevant and urgent, and catching up or binge-watching in comfort if that’s what takes their fancy. Because of COVID-19 these new ways of watching have become the norm for more or less everyone.”



“Every channel needs to be fully aware of its raison d’être. Where live TV is concerned, the focus is entirely on the experience. For drama, the binge factor is key. Viewers have been treading that radical path for a long time. Whether it’s entertainment, news, human interest or a show, mediocrity is a thing of the past.”



”The amount of content is now so vast that nobody is able to watch it all. In the next five years, there’s going to be a shake-out that will bring the market back into balance. We are in the same storm as all our national, international and global competitors. DPG Media will survive that storm thanks to our solid local base, our broad perspective and our creativity. Along with data and market expertise, it takes guts: the courage to be enterprising and take that leap of faith. And those are our strengths as a company.”

Dirk Lodewyckx (51)

held a variety of positions atMedialaan and has been General Director of TV, Streaming & Radioin Belgiumsince 2018



  • subscription video on demand
  • paid, no commercials

  • Streamz, for example


  • advertising-based video on demand
  • free, with commercials
  • VTM GO, for example

Lineair TV:

  • television as we all know it
  • VTM and RTL, for example

Maarten Janssen (40)

VTM channel manager since 2020. Before that he was network manager at Ketnet.


VTM, family of channels

“We want to be

deceptively surprising”

Focusing entirely on the experience: a criterion that is close to Maarten Janssen’s heart. “As a viewer, you want to feel that you have experienced something, otherwise the programme wasn’t worth your attention,” says the VTM channel manager. “There was a time when Flemish drama series were landmark viewing, but that has faded away with the arrival of streaming. With something like Squid Game, it’s a question of whether you’ve seen it or not. Linear TV does give everyone the chance to watch the same programme on the same day. On Saturdays, everyone talks about who the parrot might be in The Masked Singer. Our entertainment programmes set the tone in Flanders.”

The pressure to create an experience is huge: everything has to be sensational. But Janssen still believes there is still room for more challenging topics. “You have to dispense that ‘experience effect’ carefully. You can’t be compelling and sensational twice every evening, week after week. We also broadcast smaller format shows like Da’s Liefde, Cupido of zo and Make Belgium Great Again. There needs to be room for big, spectacular shows and for little gems. Da’s Liefde didn’t top the ratings but it was still nominated for an International Emmy Award; that can be just as important.”

“At VTM there needs to be room for big, spectacular shows and for little gems.”


Fresh, modern and respectful are VTM’s cornerstones, but the brand also evolved in 2021. “We want to allow real people to shine. That means showing the natural and authentic side of the ordinary people of Flanders as well as the famous ones. For all their little quirks, they too deserve a chance to shine. In addition, we want to be even more deceptively surprising than we are today. Many people have a clear image of VTM. That’s a strong point but there’s a risk of becoming predictable. So we always need to have something up our sleeve. Just because we serve a wide audience doesn’t mean that we can’t be a bit naughty and mischievous. And VTM embraces life with open arms. Everyone is welcome, inclusion and diversity are part of that.”

Viewers now watch whenever it suits them, but Maarten Janssen’s still sees a need for finely tuned broadcasting schedules. “No other medium enters our homes so easily. To distinguish ourselves, we are determined to show home-grown programmes. In days gone by, you knew that people would be sitting in front of the TV screen. Nowadays viewers have a million other options and they aren’t going to sit and watch something that bores them. There’s no mercy. Viewers are always on the look-out for brand-new content and local stories. So we are less inclined to buy content from major Hollywood studios and put more emphasis on Flemish productions. On VTM, every night of the week is Flemish night. It’s a total package with real appeal, because advertisers continue to choose VTM channels with great enthusiasm.”


in 2021


Best market share for decades


1 million


(Rode Duivels, K2 zoekt K3, The Voice van Vlaanderen, Camping Coppens, Blind Getrouwd)


Maarten Devillé (35)

Head of Recommendation& Search. Before that he was team lead of Video Personalisation& Insights.


VTM GO, fully personalized

“Here you have everything you

want and you can carry on watching”

Watching VTM GO, you would scarcely know that it’s a newcomer to the market. “In two years we have managed to create a fully personalised product,” says Maarten Devillé, Head of Recommendation & Search. “We are now starting to mature. We compile your home page to reflect your interests. We match our selection to your preferences and try to ensure that you discover as many programmes as possible. If you find yourself wondering why you are being offered a particular programme, that means we haven’t got our recommendations right.”

One of the cornerstones of personalisation is a customer’s viewing habits. “We build a pattern by linking what we know about our viewer to what we know about our content. Our wide reach and the amount of content means we can work at scale. For instance, we have noticed that avid film watchers are often interested in programmes like The Voice van Vlaanderen too. Based on that info, we build a profile of every viewer and every item of content and we can calculate the match rate between a viewer and a programme.”

“We can calculate the match rate between a viewer and a programme”


Home-page personalisation is an eye-catching feature but there’s a lot more to it than that. “Personalisation is everywhere. Most viewers come to VTM GO for a specific programme. Of course, we make sure that they can find it quickly. But we also let them see that we have all kinds of other things they want, so that they can carry on watching. We often also show trailers for other programmes during the breaks. At present, these trailers are not personalised but that’s something we’re working on as part of our roadmap for 2022, so during a commercial break you are more likely to see a trailer that’s right for you.”

A lot of hard work has gone into the digital promo machine in the past year. “TV is mass communication. VTM GO is not: everything there is personalised. Our system is good at predicting what you will enjoy, but you still have to be invited to watch it. That was one of our biggest achievements of 2021: all our communication is now tailor-made, from banners to emails and push messages. Only viewers with at least a 60 percent match for the telenovela genre will be informed when the new season of Lisa starts.”

VTM GO and Streamz

in 2021




New programmes


Top 3

Most watched

series in 2021 on Streamz:

Dorien Rausch (39)

Director of Programming& Production at Streamz since2020. Before thatshe was Content& Acquisition Manager at Telenet.


Streamz, a streaming service with a very particular position

“focus on

local stories”

If a blank page can lead to writer’s block, how huge is the pressure when you have an entire streaming catalogue to fill? “We build it up month by month. Appealing local stories are our basis,” says Dorien Rausch, Director of Programming & Production at Streamz. “For international titles we have ongoing contracts, with HBO for example. In addition, we pick and choose titles from the market: last year these included Clarice and Dexter. Local content is clearly the driver of our product, so we use that as the basis for the productions, from the pitch to casting proposals to feedback on montages.”

Rausch does not have a checklist of features for a typical Streamz title. “The common thread is the refreshing or surprising way a story is told. On a pay-to-view platform, the content can be a bit bolder and more explicit. Last year, Red Light and F*** You Very, Very Much were extremely popular. Red Light gives viewers a layered narrative in a bold setting. F*** You Very, Very Much is all about hard-hitting humour with a sharp edge.”

“On a pay-to-view platform the content can be a bit bolder and more explicit”


No platform nowadays can manage without data, and that is also the case with Streamz. “We map our customers’ viewing habits right from the start. This enables us to give every customer recommendation based on what they watch. We also give the producers a specific brief based on that data. The results will be seen in 2022 and 2023, because producing a drama series is a time-consuming process. Documentaries move at a quicker pace; our aim is to show one documentary a month in 2022.”

Dozens of streaming services have been launched in recent years, yet Streamz has managed to establish its own unique position in that landscape. “What makes us stand out from the crowd is our local content. We broadcast new series and documentaries every month, though the blend of national and international programmes remains important. People are looking for local stories, a refreshing take on familiar themes, so that’s where our focus will increasingly lie in years to come.”