Matthias Settele on Passion and Teamwork: Key Drivers Behind TV Markíza's Success
Ask Matthias Settele what is behind his success as General Director of TV Markíza, and he’ll tell you those two things. Ask him what has made TV Markíza a powerhouse broadcaster in Slovakia and he’ll lead you right back there. Ask him how the broadcaster has produced such great content and greatly expanded their streaming: You’ll get the same answer. “You need passion to be successful in this business,” he explained, “and the rest comes down to teamwork. Everything else can be trained. But if we fail in teamwork or in passion, we will not be good enough.”
TV Markíza is much more than good enough. They are the number one broadcaster in Slovakia. Matthias has been the general director for nearly a decade. His career was built upon steady growth first as a journalist, then a speech writer and researcher, then head of the production for Artel, and finally, the creator of his own international broadcasting consulting company.
“Then I was captured by Markíza,” he laughed. He said he loves creating new content and he especially loves – no surprise here – being part of a fantastic team.
Matthias said that TV Markíza’s strength comes from the diversity of the company’s team. He has cultivated a team of different personalities and interests and he welcomes the clashes that eventually produce outstanding creative content.
“Ideas don’t depend on a passport or hierarchy,” he said. “The variety of our people, ideas, and programs is what makes us so strong.”
TV Markíza is known for its variety of programming – from reality series such as local remakes of the UK’s Liar, the Bachelor and Let’s Dance, to their own hit series The Farm, which is still going strong after 14 seasons. “Horná Dolná,” translated as “In the Middle of Nowhere” for international distribution, was the second-best series of all time for the station. It aired on Markíza from January 2015 to June 2022.
Matthias took over at TV Markíza at a time of rapid change and upheaval for broadcasters worldwide: The rise of streaming content and access to global programming has been a big challenge for almost every TV station.
The company has spent the last 2.5 years hiring data-driven employees in their 20s and 30s. The station now has customer care managers, programmers, and performance optimization specialists.
“It’s an interesting clash of cultures,” he said. “People who’ve been in the business since the channel began 26 years ago and now these young people explaining what to do.”
“The learning curve has been interesting,” he added. “It’s now a global business with, let’s say a local office. Netflix sets the standard of what our platform should look like and what features and functions we offer.”
TV Markíza started streaming in 2013 before Netflix had come on the scene. They had between 10,000-20,000 subscribers but “we ourselves didn’t know what to do with it.” A few years ago, TV Markíza revamped the platform and now boasts a total of more than 500,000 when combined with the Czech Republic.
Matthias said that the changes to the industry have also made the necessary teamwork much more complicated. He recently gave a lecture on the subject to students at the CME Content Academy. The academy develops talented newcomers into the scriptwriters, showrunners, and TV producers of tomorrow. TV Nova and TV Markíza created CME together with The Television Institute, to train students in the television industry and give them the opportunity to work long-term for the two broadcasters.
“I want them to understand the program cycle,” he said. “The analysis, development, planning, scheduling…it’s all so complex now. We have streaming, regular TV, online and social media marketing a team on Tik Tok, Instagram, and product placement: it’s all connected and failure can happen in any part of the chain.”
Matthias said he appreciates the great diversity among students at the academy since he sees that as essential to creating a strong, innovative team.
“I like to say that we have different animals in the company,” he said, “Lions and monkeys, donkeys and snakes and zebras. And we can’t have all zebras or lions. We need different ideas and people who are challenging each other.”
Matthias said the best teams find a balance between risk-takers and risk-minimizers. “If everyone is medium or neutral, you will get a medium product. And no one wants that.”
Passion and teamwork: Based on TV Markíza’s success, it appears that Matthias has found the right answer to guide the broadcaster into a rapidly changing future.