EU moves ahead with Netflix and Amazon content quota
Staff Reporter | On 30, Apr 2018Reading time: 11 mins
The European Union is moving ahead with new rules that could require Netflix and other streaming services to commit to streaming a minimum quota of European content.
First proposed by the European Parliament in 2016, the rule would require streaming services operating on the content to have a minimum of 30 per cent of their catalogues made up by European content – and could also require them to fund European productions.
A preliminary deal was struck by EU lawmakers and member states last week, reports Reuters, giving countries within the EU the option to require streaming platforms servicing, or based within, their market to contribute to European films and TV, either by contributing to national funds or directly investing in them. Since the 2016 proposals, Netflix has taken big steps to pre-empt the new regulations, using its broader strategy of diversifying its original content to step up its investment in European productions. Between 2012 and 2017, the streaming giant spent £1.5 billion on European content, including hit German show Dark, Italian gangster drama Suburra and co-productions such as Marcella with ITV.
That spending spree has continued this year, with popular Spanish thriller Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) renewed for a third season by Netflix, as part of 10 new projects from the UK, France and more, as well as its first Italian film, Forgive Us Our Debts.
The rules would also require video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, to take measures against content deemed to be “inciting violence, hatred and terrorism”, creating a “transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content”.
“They encourage innovative services and promote European films – but also protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way,” Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President, said of the revised rules, which will also apply to live-streaming platforms, such as Facebook Live.
However, the preliminary agreement still needs to be formally approved by the European Parliament and EU member states before it becomes official law.
EU strikes deal forcing Netflix, Amazon to fund European content
28th April 2018
Online streaming services including Netflix (NFLX.O) and Amazon Prime Video (AMZN.O) could be required by countries to help fund European films and TV shows under a preliminary deal struck by EU lawmakers and member states on Thursday.
The new law extends the European Union’s broadcasting rules to online video services and includes a quota of at least 30 percent for European works on video-on-demand platforms.
Video-sharing platforms like Google’s YouTube (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O) will also have to take measures against content “inciting violence, hatred and terrorism.”
Online platforms will need to create a “transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content.”
“They (the new rules) encourage innovative services and promote European films – but also protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way,” said Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President.
The revised rules will apply to traditional broadcasters as well as to video-on-demand platforms and live streaming online, such as Facebook Live.
EU member states will have the option of requiring streaming services not based in that country but targeting their audience to contribute financially to the production of European works, such as by directly investing in them or paying into national funds.
Under the current rules member states can only make on-demand services based in their jurisdiction pay into European content.
The level of contribution in each country will be proportional to the on-demand revenues in that country.
Netflix already funds European series such as La Casa de Papel in Spain, Suburra in Italy and Black Mirror in the UK.
Earlier this month the streaming company unveiled 10 new European projects including seven series, two documentaries and one film.
“The EU’s regulation of video sharing platforms is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to examine online liability and protect EU citizens by bringing online platforms up to the same regulatory standard as TV,” said David Wheeldon, Group Director of Policy and Public Affairs, at broadcaster Sky (SKYB.L).
Thursday’s agreement still needs to be formally approved by both the whole European Parliament and EU member states.
As of last year, Netflix had invested more than $1.75 billion in European productions since 2012,
UK makes up lion’s share of European TV on Netflix
15th June 2017
UK TV makes up the lion’s share of European TV content available on Netflix, according to new research.
The report, conducted by the European Audiovisual Observatory, analysed the Netflix catalogues in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, aims to determine how much content on streaming services comes from different countries. Indeed, where content comes from is set to become a pressing issue for Europe, as the European Parliament moves towards setting quotas for VOD platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, that operate on the continent.
Following recommendations from the European Commission last year (of 20 per cent), the European Parliament recently agreed upon a minimum threshold of 30 per cent of each service’s catalogue coming from Europe, should the controversial rule be introduced. Many countries have opposed the quota, including the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg.
The notion has not been well received by Netflix, which argues that, despite being well intentioned, the quota may result in lower quality work, as it could take investment away from the best European films and TV shows to pursue quantity over quality. The streaming giant has placed a growing emphasis on its £1.5 billion investment in European content in recent years, with original series including German show Dark, Spanish drama Cable Girls, Italian thriller Suburra, and a host of co-productions with European broadcasters, including Marcella (ITV), Kiss Me First (Channel 4), Watership Down (BBC), La catedral del mar (Antena 3), Rita (TV2 Denmark) and El ministerio del tiempo (RTVE), as well as licensed series, including The Break (RTBF), Nobel (NRK), Cannabis (Arte), Bordertown (YLE), No Second Chance (TF1), Call My Agent! (France 2), Case (RUV), Beau Sejour (VRT) and The Same Sky (ZDF).
Recent research from the Observatory found that EU films make up 19 per cent of the movies on offer in 37 different subscription services examined.
How does that break down? The main European countries of origin for EU TV content in Netflix’s catalogues are the United Kingdom with 160 titles (or 44 per cent of the total EU TV titles available in the 8 Netflix catalogues studied), France with 72 titles (20 per cent) and Germany with 52 titles (14 per cent). Together, these three countries produce 78 per cent of EU 28 TV titles in the 8 catalogues studied.
What about transactional (pay-per-view) VOD? These 3 countries produce 91.5 per cent of all EU titles in the 3 iTunes catalogues studied, with UK produced TV titles representing 52 per cent (884 titles), German produced titles representing 22 per cent (365 titles) and French titles 17 per cent (297 titles).
The differences in the catalogues are more visible when national content is taken into account: iTunes offers a much higher share of national TV content than Netflix. The use of the iTunes platform for national broadcasters and right holders to monetise their TV content could explain this difference combined with the difference in business models. Netflix has to buy the rights for each TV programme whereas iTunes doesn’t, thus enabling it to offer a larger quantity.
American content is also prolific. Netflix and iTunes offer respectively 48 per cent and 42 per cent of US TV content when titles are counted, or 56 per cent and 50 per cent when seasons are taken into account and 60 per cent and 55 per cent when episodes are counted. (This reflects the fact that US scripted TV series included in the two catalogues last for longer seasons with more episodes.)
The genres which seem to circulate the widest on these two services are kids’ animation (the German Die Schule der kleinen Vampire, the French Mouk, the Spanish Suckers, the Italian PopPixie or the Finnish Angry Birds) and scripted crime and drama series (such as the UK’s Luther and Peaky Blinders, Sweden’s The Killing). Another genre of TV programmes well represented in the top lists is TV documentaries (such as the BBC’s Africa, the French Vu du Ciel or the German Gehemnisse des Zweiten Weltkriegs).
Some countries already have their own quotas for broadcasting content, with France, for example, requiring VOD platforms to have at least 60 per cent of their catalogues originating from Europe.
EU officially announces European Netflix quota
25th May 2016
The European Union has officially announced proposals for a new quota that will force VOD providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and iTunes to meet a quota for European content.
The proposals, which were rumoured last week, would require streaming services operating in European territories to show at least 20 per cent European continent.
Speaking in Brussels, Günther Oettinger of the European Commission told the press: “We want new service providers to meet these rules so for young people there is some European culture on offer for them. It’s a way of promoting the film industry but also promoting European identity. Old films are sometimes good. For example, Charlie Chaplin is a timeless thing.”
While some have criticised the notion as old-fashioned and protectionist, though, research by the Commission confirms that the quota would not prompt any immediate changes, as European titles already make up 21 per cent of Netflix’s catalogue and iTunes also meets the quota.
Will streaming services have any control over what they buy to meet the quota?
“If they [the streaming services] buy stuff that isn’t good, viewers will not watch them anymore,” Oettinger added. “We trust the providers to fill them with sensible stuff.”
The proposals announced today must now be approved by EU member states and the European parliament to become law.
Read our original report on the proposals below.
Pointless protection? New EU quota could force Netflix to promote European content
21st May 2016
A new EU quota could force Netflix and other subscription streaming services to promote and support European content.
The proposals, leaked to The Daily Mail. and also seen by Reuters, are set to be published on 25th May. If they remain as they currently are, they could require streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to ensure one-fifth of their content is made up of European films and TV shows. The draft says the aim is to create “a more level playing field in the promotion of European works by obliging on-demand services to reserve at least 20 per cent share for European works in their catalogues and to ensure adequate prominence of such works”.
Streaming media companies based outside of Europe, who sell their services to European audiences, may also be hit with a tax to help fund European filmmakers, “including via direct investment in content and contributions to national funds”. (Under the currrent rules, EU countries can order on-demand services based in their jurisdiction to contribute to financing European content.)
The move is thought to be driven by France, which has traditionally fought to support its own film and TV industry in the face of Hollywood’s dominance, from a tax on privately-owned broadcasters who rely on US content to subsidise French productions to rules that stop films released in cinemas being made available on demand within a certain timeframe.
While TV broadcasters pay around 20 per cent of their revenue towards European content, though, that share drops to just 1 per cent for on-demand services.
“It is clear that the current film financing system is being challenged by quick changes in production, distribution and consumption, triggered by digital technologies,” Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s digital Commissioner, told Reuters in Cannes.
Others, such as Conservative Party MEP Daniel Dalton, have criticised the idea as “digital protectionism”.
“The European Commission has yet again failed to understand how the digital world works. Subscription services like Netflix and Amazon should consider only one thing when placing content on their platforms: what their viewers want to watch,” he told the news agency.
The rules would build upon EU conventions that already exist, though: current law requires on-demand services to promote production and access to European works in general, without a minimum threshold, while traditional broadcasters must reserve half of their transmission time for European work, reports Reuters. In France, European titles must make up at least 60 per cent of the content available on VOD services based in the country.
James Waterworth, VP of the CCIA trade association, of which Netflix is a member, joined the condemning remarks from other figures, saying: “The idea of cultural quotas is outdated, doesn’t serve the consumer interest in the twenty-first century and won’t help internet innovators or content innovators.”
The rule, though, could ultimately prove pointless: according to a study undertaking for the EC, European films already make up 27 per cent of titles shown on streaming srvices, and 21 per cent of titles on Netflix.
Content libraries vary from country to country at present. Even taking that into account, though, research by Ampere found that the “least European” library is offered by Netflix in Poland, where 20 per cent of its titles are at least partially produced in a European country. On Amazon Prime Video, the same is true of 33 per cent of titles. Amazon would be unaffected in its two core markets of the UK and Germany, suggests Ampere, while Netflix would have to adjust its catalogue in the UK, Germany, Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands – but “not necessarily by much”.
Netflix, meanwhile, is increasingly looking to diversity its production of original content anyway – at the start of May, the VOD giant released Marseille, its first French (and, indeed, European) production, with more partnerships with local broadcasters on the way.