Europe home to nearly 500 VOD services
Editor | 16-05-2013

On the eve of the Cannes Film Festival, an audit of audiovisual services industry by The European Audiovisual Observatory has discovered more than 3,000 on-demand services, 447 of which offer VOD.

The EAO’s MAVISE database identified 3,087 on-demand audiovisual products encompassing catch-up TV, newspapers’ video services and various kinds of VOD offerings such as general interest, films, TV fiction, music, animation and children’s or adult programmes. These all existed on a number of economic models financed by advertising, pay-per-view, direct subscription, subscription to digital packages and services from public broadcasters.

Of the 2,733 services established in the European Union, 447 of them film VOD service, 44 were trailer services (not including distributors’ promotional websites) and ten were film archive services. Subscription VOD (SVOD) services were seen to have proliferated in the last few months, with 76 individual products identified.

Over half (52%) of the VOD services available in one country are established in another. The EAO cautions that this development in the cross-border provision of on-demand audiovisual 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. In addition, the research revealed an increasing number of multi-platform services across fixed or mobile Internet, cable, IPTV and even DTT. A similar growing number of VOD services were also available in the form of applications for tablets or smart TVs.

The research noted that Luxembourg, Sweden, The Netherlands and the Czech Republic stand out as territories with a relatively large number of services compared to their size. The former benefits considerably from hosting the iTunes Stores — for not only other European countries but also countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia — and Netflix which is currently active in the UK and the Nordic countries and which will be rolled out in other territories. For its part, Sweden hosts Nordic-oriented services such as SF Anytime, Canal+ Digital, CDON, Headweb and Filmnet.

The Czech Republic is home to the various versions of HBO OD, which targets Central Europe, while The Netherlands is characterised by a multiplicity of small online VOD services and a few cable or IPTV platform services.

Significantly, the EAO notes the pre-eminence of US-based VOD offerings through Europe such as Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, MUBI or Eurochannel. MAVISE also listed 207 services in May 2013 (including 123 film services) established or probably established in the US and explicitly targeting one or more European markets. Moreover, of the 53 subscription VOD services available, mostly film-based, launched by YouTube in the US in early May 2013, 29 are available in Europe and charged in euros. The research also recognised Switzerland’s, Acetrax services, bought by BSkyB in 2012, and Viewster.