More than 3,000 on-demand services in Europe

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
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The Observatory to present an expanded version of the MAVISE database in Cannes

  • In May 2013, more than 3,000 on-demand audiovisual services were identified as being established in European countries or received in at least one country
  • 447 VoD services established in the European Union offer only or mainly cinema films
  • More than 130 film VoD services targeting one or more EU countries were established outside the EU, mainly in the United States and Switzerland
  • The database also lists 45 services offering compilations of trailers and 10 European archive services

STRASBOURG — The European Audiovisual Observatory has just taken stock of on-demand audiovisual services on the occasion of the Cannes Film Market. These data are available in the MAVISE database, which has now been expanded to cover on-demand audiovisual services in Europe and is available online free of charge.

The general use of cross-border strategies for VoD services

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% of the total available), 44 were trailer services (not including distributors’ promotional websites) and 10 were film archive services.

It appears only natural that the big countries should have a large number of film VoD services: 48 are established in the United Kingdom, 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 United Kingdom 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.

Number of film services by country of establishment (April 2013)
Film VOD services for the national market, Film VOD services targeting foreign market(s), Trailer services, Archives
Source: European Audiovisual Observatory / MAVISE database

It is also important to note the large number of services established or assumed to be established in the United States. Services available in various language versions, like 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 United States 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 United Kingdom in the last few months) also target various EU countries.

It should also be pointed out that 417, or 45.3%, 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% 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 (SvoD) 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.

MAVISE: a tool for rights holders, distributors, regulators and the general public

The MAVISE database, which was launched in 2008 and is available online free of charge, has up to now only provided information on television channels established and received in the European Union and the accession countries. It lists more than 10,000 television channels and supplies information on the company providing the service, the means of distribution (terrestrial, cable, satellite, IPTV, etc) and the type of channel and its target audience and enables cross-reference searches to be run. Channels can be identified by country of establishment or country of reception. For example, the database enables 468 film channels established or received in Europe, including 37 received in the United Kingdom and 81 established in Sweden, to be identified.

Such a tool especially permits rights holders or sales staff to identify potential customers for their films and learn more about the geographical coverage of the audiovisual services to which they entrust their works.

The MAVISE database needed to be expanded to include on-demand audiovisual services, in particular film VoD services. It now provides national and European audiovisual industry regulators with a systematic picture of the range of European audiovisual services and their availability. It also facilitates the (sometimes problematic) identification of service operators. Finally, the database will enable the general public to discover in a more systematic way the legal range of on-demand services available in each European country.

“The establishment of a database on on-demand audiovisual services in Europe is in some way Utopian”, says André Lange, Head of the Department for Information on Markets and Financing at the European Audiovisual Observatory. “The complexity of this field is growing and the lack of transparency is rather worrying, especially as far as the precise identification of the the company providing the services and its country of establishment are concerned. At least a third of the identifications that we provide in the database are plausible but are in fact based on assumptions. This lack of transparency with regard to producing companies definitely does not conform to European or national transparency standards relating to publishing or media ownership. There is some risk involved in making these data available to the public, but we hope that service providers and distributors will be keen to help us correct any mistakes.”

Demonstration of the MAVISE database at the Cannes Film Market

The Observatory will demonstrate the expanded version of MAVISE at its stand (stand 18.02, level 01) on Tuesday 21 May 20013 from 9.30 am onwards.