The European Union has made a pretty bold proposal for the future of video streaming services, which could affect what you get to watch and where it comes from
Didn’t think politics affected your hobby of binge-watching Breaking Bad? Turns out it does, as the EU wants to make changes to your on demand video services.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What’s the proposal?
The proposal made this week comes from The European Commission, who are asking that at least 20% of all content offered by streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime would be made locally.
In their official statement, the European Commission said:
“The media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. Instead of sitting in front of the family TV, millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices.
“While European TV broadcasters invest around 20% of their revenues in original content, this figure represents less than 1% for on-demand providers (source). The proposal therefore will aim at encouraging new investment in European works.”
How would this affect my viewing?
Essentially, this means for every eight American blockbusters and hit series available, there would have to be at least two shows/films which had been produced inside the EU. As well as this, the Commission is also asking that these parts of the catalogue be given “good visibility” on the platforms.
Although many streaming services already match up to this quota with their fondness for British shows (the BBC make up a notable chunk of Netflix’s offerings), it does mean that their content could become a bit of a balancing act.
Netflix have only recently ventured into their first original mainland European show, with political drama Marseille debuting at the start of May, while Amazon Prime’s hit show Vikings would qualify as ‘home made ‘ due to filming in Ireland.
What has been the reaction?
Netflix have commented that they don’t agree with quotas, but are committed to European programming:
“Our members around the world love European programming. That’s why our investment in European programming, including Netflix original titles created in Europe, is growing.”
Also, in the current climate of the Brexit debate, some see this quota as an overreach and example of the EU’s control over what we watch:
EU rules on Netflix perfect eg of how stuck in past it is. Cannot lead world in tech if in EU. #VoteLeave
— jamie martin (@jamieamartin1) May 26, 2016
— Gergely Polner (@eurocrat) May 25, 2016
The EU might force Netflix to devote 20% of its catalog to European content… Its not like I needed another reason to #VoteLeave
— Cafer Munur (@CMunur) May 22, 2016
Okay, what’s the positives?
Currently, we live in a world where the big streaming services have very, very loose purse strings and seem happy to invest in new content – both original and from traditional networks.
This new quota could mean that they invest more money in big European dramas, which would make a nice change from them throwing more money at terrible Adam Sandler projects.
Could the next Breaking Bad style hit be a French language production? It would be pretty incredible to see.
Hit me with the negatives
Okay, so quotas are a little restrictive and do suggest a big governing body telling us how much of something we can watch.
Also, while we currently live in the boom times of on-demand video, you know they’re not going to last forever. What happens when Amazon Prime’s budget starts drying up and we’re given cheap low-quality European series just to meet the quota? Or what if they start pulling big budget American shows just to make sure they’re not going over the percentages?
Save us from Euro-trashy TV soap operas, Netflix. We have enough here already!