Netflix No. 2 TV Group in Europe in Revenue

The Netflix star just gets brighter. New data from Ampere Analysis reveals that the SVOD behemoth became the second largest TV group in Europe by revenue in 2020. Comcast, through its acquisition of satellite TV operator Sky, is the Euro leader with 12% market share compared to Netflix’s 6.1%.

“Since launching in 2012, Netflix has grown rapidly in Europe,” analyst Tony Maroulis said in a statement.

Indeed, by 2016, Netflix had launched its services across much of Europe and surpassed $1 billion in revenue. By 2017, it had the largest customer tally of any subscription TV business in Europe. And by 2020, Netflix had overtaken German public broadcaster ARD.

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It would seem that there is no limit to Netflix’s meteoric rise as the streamer continues outsized foreign growth, and helps itself to a greater portion of the audio-visual revenue.

“While Netflix has enjoyed success across the continent, local broadcasters are facing increased pressure,” said Maroulis. “The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the TV advertising market into decline, compounding and accelerating the woes of traditional and established brands. And while Netflix’s pockets are getting deeper, local entities are struggling to compete.”

Ampere contends that over the next few years, Netflix alone is set to be better funded than many leading commercial broadcasters, and its scale means that it is able to produce quantities of high-quality content that most of its local competitors cannot match.

“This global vs. local imbalance will further accelerate the online viewing shift, which is now beginning to shift to older demographics as well as young,” Maroulis said.

TikTok App Launching on Samsung Smart TVs

TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media video app, is coming to connected televisions for the first time. In a Dec. 14 announcement, TikTok said its app would be embedded in Samsung Smart TVs in the U.K., with further rollout across Europe planned in 2021. The deal does not include the U.S. for now. About 100 million Americans use the TikTok app on a monthly basis.

“The past year has dramatically changed the way we live, work and play,” Rich Waterworth, GM of the U.K. amd E.U. at TikTok, said in a statement. “More of us are spending time at home watching TV. This has led us to think about how we can bring the creativity and joy of TikTok to even more people across the U.K.”

Waterworth, a former executive at YouTube and ITV, said the app would not require registering an TikTok account. Viewers will have access to 12 content categories, including a portfolio of original content, including recipe hacks, comedy skits, and video challenges.

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The app will be available on all Samsung Smart TV models from 2018, which include 4K UHD and 8K TVs as well as Smart Monitor, The Premiere, The Frame and The Serif.

European Cinema Operators ‘Shocked’ at Movies Bypassing Theaters for Disney+

Similarly to the situation in the United States, European theater operators are reeling from studios delaying new-release movies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the trade group representing European exhibitors, has lashed out at Walt Disney Studios’ decision to bow Pixar Animation’s Soul on SVOD service Disney+ rather than in theaters.

“Disney’s decision to release Soul directly onto their streaming platform, depriving many audiences across Europe from seeing it on the big screen, has shocked and dismayed all cinema operators,” UNIC said in a statement.

Indeed, Soul represents the third major Disney title (after Artemis Fowl and Mulan) to forgo a theatrical release due to the pandemic. UNIC is upset since control of the pandemic is better in Europe than in the U.S., which has resulted in significantly better box office revenue.

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The vast majority of cinemas across Europe are now open and able to offer a “safe and enjoyable” return for moviegoers, according to UNIC. Like U.S. exhibitors, European operators have invested heavily in social distancing and sanitation protocols in theaters.

“Yet again, however, they find a distributor delivering another blow,” UNIC wrote. “The decision on Soul is doubly frustrating for operators who were counting on the release after the film was previewed at a number of key European film festivals.”

The trade group argues that there is compelling evidence that where moviegoers have returned, their experience was both safe and enjoyable. It also stressed that without major new releases, consumers won’t return to the big screen. Indeed, across Europe, many cinemas have since re-opening screened countless local releases, underlining the fact that first-run titles are now more important than ever.

UNIC said decisions to postpone titles, bypassing cinemas and the value they create, are extremely disappointing — and concerning — and will only delay the day that the whole industry is able to put crisis behind it.

“It is no exaggeration to say that by the time some studios decide that the moment is right to release their films, it may be too late for many European cinemas,” read the statement.

Europa+ SVOD Service Launches in Latin America

A new subscription streaming video service based in Atlanta has launched operations in Latin America. Dubbed Europa+ (Europa Más), the $5.99 monthly service features content from the U.K., Germany, France and Nordics.

Designed for European ex-pats, Latin Americans of European descent and the large community of those passionate about European culture throughout the region, Europa+ offers viewers a variety of the latest European TV shows to link them to their roots, culture and tastes.

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The service draws a curated list of programs from from more than 1,500 hours of library content from BBC Studios, Studio Canal, TF1, ZDF, NordicWorld, Studio 100, Spiegel and Mediaset. Programs are presented ad-free, in high-definition and their original language — all with subtitles and the majority sub-titled in Spanish and English. It is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and all shows are available for download for later viewing on portable devices.

Europa+ is owned and operated by Mexico City-based investment fund, Innokap, and Atlanta-based Castalia Communications Corp.

“For nearly 30 years, Castalia Communications has forged a track record of successfully launching new media ventures worldwide,” Luis Torres-Bohl, president of Europa+ and co-owner of Castalia Communications, said in a statement. “Our mission has always been to enable the many and different voices of our world the opportunity to be heard.”

“We provide programming that makes Europeans living and working in Latin America and the Caribbean feel more connected to home,” said Rubén Mendiola, COO and managing director of Europa+. “Subscribers will have the newest European dramas, comedies, documentaries, reality, nature, motor shows, kids’ toons and more at their fingertips.”

Disney+ Launching in Eight More Countries Sept. 15

The Walt Disney Co.’s subscription streaming video service Disney+ is set to launch in eight more European countries Sept. 15. The upstart service, which bowed in the United States, Canada and Holland on Nov. 12, 2019, is launching in Portugal, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg (€6.99/monthly, €69.99/annually), and Norway (69 NOK/689 NOK), Denmark (59 DKK/589 DKK) and Sweden (69 SEK/689). The service no longer offers free seven-day trial periods.

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The platform bowed in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico Nov. 19, 2019; and in Austria, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland March 24.

Like other subs, new users have access Disney+ experience on nearly all major mobile and connected TV devices at launch, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. Subs have access to commercial-free content, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices, personalized recommendations, and the ability to set up to seven different profiles.

As of May, Disney said Disney+ had 54.5 million subscribers.

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Report: Disney+ European Launch Nabs 5 Million First-Day App Downloads

The Disney+ launch March 24 in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom reportedly generated about 5 million app downloads, according to new data from App Annie. By comparison, Disney’s launch of a branded SVOD service in North America last November generated 10 million downloads/sign-ups.

With many Europeans on lockdown at home due to the coronavirus pandemic the launch comes at a time when people are even more inclined to stream video content.

“Disney+ is set to be one of the top streaming apps in the region,” analyst Adithya Venkatraman wrote in a blog post.

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With schools closed, Disney+, with its array of kid-friendly programs, made Frozen 2 available three months ahead of schedule.

Disney+ will be available in France on April 7, and additional Western European markets in the summer, followed by Latin-America and Asia-Pacific.

Disney+ began testing the service in India through the company’s Hotstar app, the 10th ranked app in India by time spent on Android phones in 2019, according to App Annie. Disney recently announced the India launch would be postponed.

So far in 2020, Disney+ is the 7th ranked non-gaming app by consumer spend worldwide with the U.S. being the main driver of consumer spend.

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Through December 2019, Disney+ users are spending an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes per month in the app, according to App Annie. This is comparable to established players like Netflix (4 hours and 20 minutes per month), and Hulu (3 hours and 20 minutes per month). By the end of 2019, 25% of Netflix users on iPhone in the U.S. also used Disney+, the highest overlap of users among top video apps in the U.S.

With increased social distancing measure taking effect in the U.S. and across the world, free streaming service Pluto.tv (a subsidiary of ViacomCBS), saw a 75% week-over-week increase in time spent on Android phones in the U.S. during the week of March 1-7.

The recent acquisition of Tubi TV by Fox, and the planned April 6 launch of Quibi further highlight the increasing competition among video apps for consumers’ time and money, according to Venkatraman.

“If Disney+’s uptake in European markets is similar to what we saw in the U.S., it would make Disney+ one of the largest streaming services by [monthly active users] in every European market it launched in,” Venkatraman wrote .

He said there was a comparable amount of cross-app usage between Netflix and Amazon Prime in the U.K. and Germany during 2019 — 17% in the U.K. and 25% in Germany.

“This suggests that consumers in these markets are willing to support multiple subscription services. The question is how many, and for how long?” Venkatraman wrote.

Disney+ Goes Live in Western Europe; France on April 7

Disney’s high-profile subscription streaming video platform, Disney+, officially went live throughout much of Europe on March 24. The service will launch April 7 in France due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus’ impact on the country’s broadband networks.

Pricing ranges £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription. Following its initial European launch markets, additional Western Europe launches this summer include Belgium, Scandinavia and Portugal.

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“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, said in a statement. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently, and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”

In addition to myriad streaming devices, Disney+ is also available via Deutsche Telekom in Germany, O2 in the United Kingdom, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France (on April 7th). The platform also has distribution through Comcast-owned Sky in the U.K. and Ireland.

After Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ represents the next major American SVOD competitor to Netflix outside the U.S. The Disney+ domestic debut saw more than 10 million accounts registered on the app in one day. Disney+ now has more than 30 million subscribers.

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Analyst: Netflix, YouTube Bandwidth Throttling Not Enough to Prevent Network Overload in Europe

The agreement of video streaming giants Netflix and YouTube to reduce streaming quality in Europe over the coronavirus crisis is not enough to prevent network overload, according to a director at data analytics company GlobalData.

Gaming services must also pitch in.

“Netflix and Alphabet have demonstrated superb industry leadership with this compromise and gesture, but online gaming service providers must now follow suit,” Emma Mohr-McClune, tech service director at GlobalData, said in a statement.Although video streaming represents the lion’s share of residential Internet traffic in Europe, interactive online gaming is a substantially greater threat in network overload terms. Any mass market spike in activity will have significant consequences for vital government and functions for markets in COVID-19 lockdown mode.”

Modeling impending network use during the crisis is uncharted territory, she noted.

“We are anticipating significant network challenges as millions of families spend the next foreseeable weeks in lock-down mode,” she said in a statement. “Problematically, there is no forecast template for the situation in which we find ourselves today. The quantitative industry has always reckoned with network traffic management scenarios with standard peak/off-peak times based on the standard movement and school-attendance time profile of the average online gamer. The COVID-19 lock-down will throw all that to the wall.

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“All European telcos are now putting capacity boost and traffic management processes into place, as a response to the ongoing crisis, but their efforts will be hampered without an honest dialogue between OTTs, state bodies and the network services industry.

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“At the same time, consumers must heed the call of their service providers to exercise responsible usage of the Internet. Staying at home will be particularly taxing on the discipline and patience of millennials and the digital native generation. However, exactly this generation need to show their solidarity in terms of restraint.”

Disney+ Bumps Up Euro Launch; Reveals Pricing

Disney’s foray into branded over-the-top video distribution requires a global footprint to succeed fiscally — and compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Disney Jan. 21 without explanation disclosed it has moved up by one week the European launch of SVOD service Disney+ to March 24. The service, which will be initially available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, will be priced at £5.99 (U.K.)/€6.99 ($8) monthly, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription.

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The service, which debuted in the United States on Nov. 12, 2019, drawing 10 million sign-ups in 24 hours, is also slated to bow this summer in Belgium, Scandinavia and Portugal, among others.

Original programming at launch includes “The Mandalorian,” “High School Musical: The Series,” “The World According To Jeff Goldblum,” and a reboot of Lady and the Tramp, among others.

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Disney is projecting from 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024 — the same year it expects the service to turn a profit.

Rakuten TV Launching AVOD Service

Spanish-based digital service Rakuten TV Oct. 15 announced the launch of its first ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) channel.

The free section of Rakuten TV will include Hollywood movies and TV shows, in addition to local and exclusive content with a combined linear and on-demand access.

The AVOD channel will feature soccer documentary Matchday — Inside FC Barcelona, a series about one of Spain’s top clubs from the inside, offering previously unseen and exclusive scenes from the players’ private lives.

Narrated by John Malkovich, Matchday — Inside FC Barcelona is a creation of Barça Studios, FC Barcelona’s own production house, in collaboration with Kosmos Studios, Rakuten, Inc. in association with Rakuten H Collective Studio and Producciones del Barrio.

Rakuten Viber, Rakuten’s instant messaging service, will also be involved in the project, leveraging its community of 2 million Barça fans to promote Matchday.

Citing growth in consumer interest in AVOD, Rakuten TV claims it would be the first online TV platform combining transactional on-demand video content and AVOD across Europe.

“Rakuten TV continues to evolve rapidly alongside consumer trends within the industry, where there is a clear trend of advertisers moving away from linear TV and towards VOD,” founder/CEO Jacinto Roca said in a statement. “This is the mere beginning of a huge project which will see the launch of additional channels and exclusive content in the coming months”.

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The AVOD service will be available in beta version via Rakuten’s smart TV partners and will be rolled out on other platforms, including mobile and desktop.

Advertising sales will be managed by Rakuten Marketing, a subsidiary of Rakuten. Nielsen will be the data partner (DMP-data management platform) used to target digital advertisements.

“Advertisers and agencies are eager to be among the first to showcase their brands in this exclusive and groundbreaking advertising platform,” Nick Stamos, Rakuten marketing CEO, said. “VOD is emerging as a powerful media channel, our clients have been anticipating this launch from Rakuten TV, so we are very excited to bring this new proposition to market across Europe.”