Representing about 40 million TV households, Germans now receive virtually all on-demand content by Blu-ray Disc or DVD. Video-on-demand services are set to change that over the next three to five years, says Christoph Wagner, a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s new Berlin office. “Look for dynamic, if not explosive interest in VoD as broadband penetration increases and major players consolidate the presently fragmented on-demand market,” says Wagner, an expert in the TMT (technology, media, and telecommunications) sector, key to Germany’s economy.

With the EU pushing hard for a pan-European regulatory framework around VoD, smaller players are likely out, while the big boys—U.S. Internet providers specifically—may have to pay to play. “There is a defensive wall against U.S. giants freely accessing the infrastructure,” Wagner says, “although that may hinder growth.”

The provider that creates what Wagner calls “the magic portal” will likely be the on-demand winner. “Germans must currently search multiple websites to find and access content,” he says. “The opportunity is there for one ‘magic’ source. But who that will be remains to be seen.”