Technology

More than 3,000 on-demand services in Europe

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MUMBAI: 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.

The European Audiovisual Observatory in a report said that 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 US and Switzerland.

The database also lists 45 services offering compilations of trailers and 10 European archive services.

The European Audiovisual Observatory has just taken stock of on-demand audiovisual services on the occasion of the Cannes Film Market. The general use of cross-border strategies for VoD services

This month, the European Audiovisual Observatory 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.

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.?.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.?.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.

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 (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.

European Audiovisual Observatory head of the department for information on markets and financing André Lange said, "The establishment of a database on on-demand audiovisual services in Europe is in some way Utopian. The complexity of this field is growing and the lack of transparency is rather worrying, especially as far as the precise identification of 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."

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