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Regulatory headaches ahead for European VOD providers

Just over half (52%) of the EU’s 2,700 video-on-demand services are available in another EU country, according to public service body the European Audiovisual Observatory, which warns that this may make it hard for the national regulations of some countries to be observed by providers.

Of these VOD services, around a fifth are film VOD services, with the remainder being catch-up TV services, trailer services, newspaper video services and film archives. The EU’s largest economies have the most film VOD services, with 48 established in the UK, 34 in France and 33 in Germany.

The body warns that cross-border provision of on-demand services is particularly common for film VOD services, which might make it hard for service providers to observe national regulations regarding the promotion of European works or for contributing to production funding.

Another significant finding of the report is that a select few small countries have a comparatively large number of services for their size which are being targeted at other markets: for example, Luxembourg hosts 86 VOD services, including Apple’s iTunes Stores for most other European countries as well as many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Sweden (36 VOD services) hosts various services that target the Nordic countries such as SF Anytime and Canal+ Digital, while the Czech Republic (31 services) hosts various language versions of HBO OD, which targets Central Europe.

Nearly half (45%) of the EU’s VOD services are operated by US groups, either from the United States or via subsidiaries in Europe. Subscription VOD services are described as having proliferated in the EU in recent months, with 76 have been identified by the Observatory.

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