Playphone's Pitch: start of D2C shake-up in Europe?!

US D2C mobile content distributor Playphone announced it would acquire (well, they call it merge) UK counterpart Pitch Entertainment. No details disclosed (yawn). Playphone operates its own content storefront as well as the mobile portals for the likes of ABC, Wal-Mart, Cartoon Network and RealNetworks. Pitch does similar things but predominantly in Europe and a few South-East Asian countries.

The move likely signifies the begin of the assault of the US D2C players onto Europe. This may have been a bit of a surprise a couple of years ago but it demonstrates the change the US market has undergone, which lets companies emerge that have a huge home market in their backs giving them the muscle to try out expansion into other markets. The advantage of US-groomed companies in this space is that they have been growing up in an environment that centers more around the web than it does/did in Europe. And they have become very, very good at that. Numbers are, as always, hard to come by but by the looks of it the likes of Thumbplay have slammed even D2C giants Jamba/Jamster pretty heavily over there.

With the market moving away from expensive, low-margin off-the-page distribution, which also provides limited scalability and the increasing attraction of the mobile web, that medium is likely to gain in significance fast. This will also be boosted by the tumbling walled gardens and the aggressive introduction of data flat rates by carriers (see a piece here). The trio of European D2C giants, Jamba, Zed (see here and here) and Buongiorno are girding themselves for this but a market entry by Thumbplay, which has been going from strength to strength in the US can surely only be a question of when not if. The battle for D2C Europe should be an interesting one...