The European Audiovisual Observatory has just taken stock of on-demand audiovisual services and has published the data in the MAVISE database – which has now been expanded to cover on-demand audiovisual services in Europe.
In May 2013, the database identified 3,087 on-demand audiovisual services: catch-up TV services, newspapers’ video services and various kinds of VoD services (general-interest, films, TV fiction, music, animation and children’s or adult programmes) and various economic models (financed by advertising, pay per view, direct subscription, services included in a subscription to digital packages, services from public broadcasters). 2,733 services established in the European Union were identified, 447 of them film VoD services (or 18 per cent of the total available), 44 were trailer services (not including distributors’ promotional websites) and 10 were film archive services.
According to the Observatory, it appears only natural that the big countries should have a large number of film VoD services: 48 are established in the UK, 34 in France and 33 in Germany. Four countries have a relatively large number of services compared to their size. Three of these, Luxembourg (86), Sweden (36) and the Czech Republic (31) are very clearly countries of establishment of services targeting other countries. Luxembourg hosts the iTunes Stores that are operated by iTunes S.à.r.l. and target not only other European countries (apart from Romania) but also many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia (with the exception of Japan). Netflix, which provides services for the UK and the Nordic countries and has announced the continuation of its European rollout, is also established in the Grand Duchy. In addition, the following are established in Luxembourg: the Xbox Video platforms operated by Microsoft Luxembourg S.à.r.l., which are available in 15 countries and are not considered VoD services but as catalogue distribution platforms, most being American and each regarded as a separate service. Sweden hosts various services that target the Nordic countries (SF Anytime, Canal+ Digital, CDON, Headweb, Filmnet,…) and even a service targeting Spain. The Czech Republic hosts various language versions of HBO OD, which targets Central Europe. The Netherlands is characterised by a multiplicity of small online VoD services and a few cable or IPTV platform services.
The Observatory also suggests it is important to note the large number of services established or assumed to be established in the US. Services available in various language versions, such as Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, MUBI or Eurochannel, clearly point to providers established in the United States. Of the 53 subscription VoD services (four of them film services) launched by YouTube in the US in early May, 29 are available in Europe and charged in Euros. However the question of the country of establishment is less clear in the case of the major film studios, the services of which are available in particular on Xbox Video: as no information has been supplied, we have assumed that they are established in the United States. In all, the MAVISE database listed 207 services in May 2013 (including 123 film services) established or probably established in the United States and explicitly targeting one or more European markets. Established in Switzerland, the Acetrax services (which were bought by BSkyB in 2012) and Viewster (a partially free VoD service that has been successful in the United States and the UK in the last few months) also target various EU countries.
The Observatory also points out that 417, or 45.3 per cent, of the 920 VoD services in the database (all countries and types combined) are operated by American groups, either from the United States or via subsidiaries in Europe.
The Observatory estimates that in the European Union over 52 per cent of the VoD services available in one country are established in another. This development in the cross-border provision of on-demand audiovisual services, which is especially pronounced in the case of film VoD services, might make it difficult to implement measures laid down by the most stringent national regulations for the promotion of European works or for contributing to production funding.
There are an increasing number of multi-platform services (fixed or mobile internet, cable, IPTV, sometimes digital terrestrial). More and more film VoD services are also available in the form of applications for tablets or smart TVs.
Subscription VoD (Sod) services have proliferated in the last few months, and 76 have been identified. This model, which was initially employed for some types of special-interest services (especially children’s services), has been developed with the launch of film subscription services. Many pay film channels also offer catch-up services, which are included in the subscription price and are increasingly accessible on tablets or smartphones.