Case Study

The World of Television Reshaped: Restaging Public Service TV

Facts & Figures



  • ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) is one of the largest public service broadcasting corporations in Europe.
  • In addition to the main channel, the broadcaster is also responsible for the digital channels "ZDFneo" and "ZDFinfo" and the content network "funk."
  • With the Mediathek, ZDF is giving viewers the opportunity to watch shows they missed around the clock – whether on a conventional TV or using digital devices.


  • How does linear television need to change to make it attractive for younger target groups? How do conventional TV broadcasters get more user groups on side? Young viewers stopped using a TV Guide to find the best show a long time ago. Television habits have become more personal and less tied to specific times thanks to YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services. It's against this background that ZDF felt compelled to look again at their media center and completely rethink it.


  • Analysis & optimization
  • Discovery
  • UI and UX design
  • Prototypes
  • Empowerment and adoption
  • Native Development
  • Enterprise Platform Integration


  • Progressive Web Apps
  • Native Apps for iOS und Android
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
  • Mobile API


FFW has worked with ZDF since 2014 to meet these requirements and design a media centre that responds to the needs of its viewers. 

With this aim in mind, we put together an interdisciplinary design team that would position the "ZDF Mediathek" permanently in the digital world. Countless digital solutions were created, including apps, progressive web apps, smart TV solutions, and voice clients.


In recent years, user behaviour has massively changed when it comes to films, series, and shows. New competitors crowd the market and have brought with them changes to habits when it comes to what is watched when and how often. Twenty years ago, families would gather on the couch on Saturday evenings to watch TV together; today users access different media to stream on Amazon Prime, Netflix, or YouTube. In the face of this new competition, traditional providers need to completely reposition themselves to provide digital answers for the future of TV. For ZDF, from a technology perspective this means tackling the challenge of providing top quality in a fragmented technology landscape and perfectly adapting their entire process, from accessibility through to design and performance.


Implementing the ZDF Mediathek as a Progressive Web App (PWA) is one of the answers to ZDF's requirements. This browser-based solution has countless characteristics of a native app, adapted to the circumstances of each user. This has several benefits:

  • A PWA is part of a technology mix, and its high level of accessibility makes it a technical answer to the requirement to make public service television available to as many people as possible.

  • A PWA can be shared as a direct link and accessed on almost any device without installing an app.
  • The scope of performance dynamically adapts to the performance of the end device. Features and animation which would overstrain the performance of the device are automatically reduced or disabled, which optimises the user experience.

  • Mobile use is the main focus, with PWA's offline capability an additional highlight: Using service workers ensures caching is optimised, with the PWA continuing to function in the browser, even if the internet connection is interrupted.


We put together a team that comprehensively processed ZDF's requirements and developed a sustainable strategy for ZDF – comprising experts in UX and design, development, prototyping, strategy, and technology. In 2014, we began to develop a digital strategy and roadmap to transform the "ZDF Mediathek" into a leading video platform for the digital age. Since then, we've created different services such as apps, smart TV solutions, and voice clients.